ASK, AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN YOU; SEEK, AND YOU SHALL FIND; KNOCK, AND IT SHALL BE OPENED UNTO YOU. (Matthew 7:7)
Increasingly, it is becoming more and more apparent that we truly are living in the last days, and perilous times. (2 Timothy 3:1) It is becoming more apparent that men are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power”. (2 Timothy 3:2 – 5) Paul, God's appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, wrote these things to his young protégé Timothy, as well as to us for they may be found in Paul's second letter to Timothy in Chapter 3.
Of course, the reason we must consider these things is the Word of God. It is living and abides forever. It is as true today as it was when the Lord God in-breathed it to Paul. God also in- breathed His Word to the Apostle Peter to write of the same, or substantially the same dangers. In Peter's second Epistle, we find these words: "but there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies , even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction”. We see these false teachers increasing rapidly throughout America and around the world. False teachers, holding false doctrines and another gospel. The emergent church is among them. They are progressives and there are others of like mind who are seeking to bring about an amalgamation and a syncretism of religions as the precursor to the formulation of a single world Church! Jesus also warns us to take heed that we be not deceived, and you can find His warning in Matthew Chapter 24. Never has it been more important in the history of the world that the children of God, all those in Christ our Lord, pray and pray diligently. Jesus, in Matthew Chapter 7, gives us both a command to pray, seek, and knock, as well as encouragement to pray. It is my hope and earnest desire that you will be challenged to seek God's face and to pray “without ceasing". We must pray in faith, “doubting not”, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one by whom we have authority as our great High Priest, both to hold fast our profession, and to come boldly to God's throne of grace. As we look briefly at these matters, please prayerfully consider the Lord God's instruction, commandment, and call to his children to pray.
I. CHILDREN OF GOD
First, we must remember that we once were: 1) dead in trespasses and sins; 2) aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel; 3) children of wrath by nature; 4) without God in the world. Without God in the world! We had no hope. But we read in Ephesians in the second chapter, that God, who is rich in mercy, has made us alive in Christ Jesus. We saved by grace. We have been adopted into His family and made heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. What a privilege!
Jesus refers to this great relationship as being children of God in this great 7th Chapter of Matthew's Gospel in verses 9 through 11. There he says, “or what man is there among you, who if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:9 – 11)
God is our Father. We come to Him as our heavenly parent. Just as all of us who are sinners, (and of course, that includes all, for there are none righteous not one), (all have sinned and come short of the glory of God), – just as we know how to give good gifts to our children who ask us – how much more shall our heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him? That is the argument that Jesus puts forth. What an argument! What a truth! We are children of the living God. “We are coming to the King. Giant petitions with you bring. His power and might is such that we can never ask too much." We must come and ask. We are commanded to come and pray, and seek his face, and knock and ask according to His will. The times are desperate my friend, it is time for us to take our calling to prayer seriously!
II. SOME IMPLIED CONDITIONS
Certain conditions are implied. First, one must be a Christian to be a child of God. The call which Jesus sets forth is for the children of God to pray. Therefore, we must hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that “he himself came not into the world to condemn the world but to save the world from their sins”. He came to seek and to save that which was lost and to give His life a ransom for many. “He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the cross that we might be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness, and with His stripes we are healed.” The precious blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
a. We must know that Jesus became our great substitute and atoned for all of our sin (“it is finished!”) It is important for one to be a child of God. We must hear the holy truth of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. God, alone, will grant us repentance toward Him and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ we are a new creation; we have been born-again; we are no longer dead in trespasses and sins; we are no longer children of wrath by nature. We are no longer aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel; and no longer without God in the world! We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. We are children of God by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. We must ask in faith. James writes: “but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that waivers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1: 6&7)
c. We must ask with the right motive. James also said, “you ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your own lust." (James 4:3)
d. We must ask according to God's will. “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14)
These are a few of the conditions that are implied in the call to prayer set forth in Matthew Chapter 7.
Obviously, we must ask. For sure, we must ask according to the will of God, but if we don't ask we do not receive. That is the call which all of us who are God's children have received and should be exercising at the present time. “Ask” in this particular text indicates that we should ask an go on asking! We should ask and ask and ask again. Our Father which art in heaven do not let us be deceived. Jesus has said, “take heed that you be not deceived”, Father, help us. Keep us from being deceived. Father which art in heaven, we realize that our hearts are desperately wicked. Do not allow us to deceive ourselves. Ask for giant petitions. Father put an end to abortion of all kinds. Make abortion so reprehensible and so repulsive that no physician (who is supposed to save life) would dare to take the life of a child in its mother's womb. Father, raise up men who are preachers of righteousness, who proclaim your Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Send it across this nation and around the world and bring many to yourself according to your good pleasure. You are able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”. Father, bring many who do not know you to yourself through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the preaching and teaching of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and your holy truth for you have said, “ask and it shall be given you! Lord, we ask, help us to ask according to your will, in faith, doubting not.
Once again the call is to seek and go on seeking. We have all played hide and seek as children. God tells us that “we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart”. Seek Him with your whole heart and go on seeking and you shall find. That is His promise you shall find. Not maybe – you SHALL find.
Once again, the call in the command is to knock and go on knocking. Knock as if you are a man at the door and desperate to get in. Knock on the door. Call unto the Lord for we are living in desperate, perilous times. Father, we knock. Seek to use the weapons of our warfare. “These weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every vain thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. We knock Lord and ask that you will put an end to the ungodly, unrighteous, abominable nature of sexual perversion of all kinds. Lord, put an end to that which seems to be pouring forth from every advertisement, every television program, every newspaper and magazine, and every movie. This evil “stuff” depicts all forms of ungodly sexual behavior of all kinds, attracting those who are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Lord, our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, we knock for you have said that to him that knocks it shall be opened. Open the door, Lord, and let the light Stream in. Jesus is the light of the world and He has made us to be light also. Help us to let our light so shine among men that others might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Lord, we knock, we pray that you would open and let the salt stream forth. Jesus has made us the salt of the earth. Help us to be salt and to preach and teach your holy truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
VI. A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
Harold Lindsell records an incident in a book that he wrote called When You Pray which took place in the Sudan interior mission field. He records: “from the biography of Bingham there is another story of answered prayer surrounding the life of Tommie Titcombe, a close associate of Bingham's who although small in body was a great missionary and prayer warrior. [he] relates a contact he had with the pagan's and the Muslims in that part of Sudan that is strongly reminiscent of Elijah’s contention with the Prophets of Baal. There had been no rain in the land for a long time. The crops withered, the fodder failed and starvation threatened. The pagan's beat their drums, blew their horns, screamed and shouted to their idol. Pandemonium reigned for a week and the missionaries got little sleep. At the end of the week the pagans sacrificed a calf. They put blood upon the idol and drank the rest warm. They then ate the animal raw. They did not cook it. They were going to bring rain. But there was no rain. Let the missionary tell the rest of the story:
“I said, Diaki, where is the rain?"
He said, “white man, if you had not been here we would of sacrificed a girl. Our God always demands a human sacrifice. Then there would have been rain!" But there was no rain.
The Muslims said, “we will bring the rain." If noise could have done it they would have brought the heavens down too. They screamed night and day. They cried to Mohamet, prayed three times a day and three times each night. They would not partake of a drop of water or morsel of food in the daytime. They were going to fast; they were going to bring the rain. They sacrificed a lamb, but there was no rain. So the week ended. The following day we were in church. I had just given my message when the African pastor came to me and said, “white man, isn’t it a time for us to pray for rain?" I said, “listen, son, the pagans and Muslims have been praying for rain for a week."
“White man, we know that, but they are praying to idols that have eyes but they see not, ears that hear not and mouths that speak not. They cannot hear us. They can't help us."
“Well,” I said, “what about the Muslims? They haven’t any idols
“White man, we know that Mohammed lived, but he died."
“What is the difference?" I said.
“Oh," he replied, “Jesus was born of a virgin, he lived and died."
“Is that all?" “No, he came out of the grave and said, all power is given unto to me in heaven and on earth."
“Have you any scripture to give you an assurance God will answer your prayer?"
He said, “Elijah was a man of like passions as are we… And he prayed and the heaven gave rain."
I then turned to the congregation and said, “tomorrow night we are going to pray for rain. Let none come if they do not believe that God hears and answers prayer."
After the service I went to my little home. When the African pastor and I were sitting on the veranda, suddenly we heard the message of the drums. It was the bush telegraph telling all and sundry, “now, we will see who has the god that lives. The believers are going to pray for rain."
So the message of the drums went forth into the gathering dusk of the golden African night, a challenge to the powers of darkness that held multitudes in the bondage of fear.….
The next day was hot, so hot I warned my fellow workers against going out into the sun. In the afternoon the heat was bearable. At 7:00 PM the bell rang for church and there was not even a cloud the size of a man's hand to hang one's faith on. When I got to the church the Muslims were gathered on one side and the pagans on the other. There was an air of expectancy everywhere as though the prince of the power of the air knew that his authority was about to be challenged and his kingdom in that part of the earth assaulted.
When I entered the church, I must confess I was surprised to see the Christians with big umbrella hats upon their heads. “What are you doing with those things on your head in church?" I asked. They looked at me with astonishment and reproach on their faces. “White man, haven't we come to pray for rain, and didn't you tell us that only those who believe God answers prayer were to come?"… These were one-time cannibals, not far removed in years from those horrible rites. Many of them had eaten human flesh only a few short years before – now they had come to pray for rain and, believing that the God who would save them from their sins was the hearer and answer of prayer, they had brought their own umbrellas with them in full expectancy that their prayer for rain would be answered. My words were brief and confined to two verses from James 5 verses 17 and 18, then they prayed. They didn't pray for the white man, the pagans or the Muslims. The prayer was simple, direct and went straight to the throne: “Lord we need rain." 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes went by as these black men with all the sublimity of their simple faith, sought the help of God in their extremity. Within 5 minutes later there was a tapping on the corrugated iron roof of the church that thrilled us all, and in a moment the sound of abundance of rain. My, did it rain! The Lord just opened the windows of heaven so that the pagans and the Muslims fled in terror to their homes. The former cried: “we shouted for a week, and sacrificed a calf and got no rain"; the latter said, “we fasted for a week and sacrificed a lamb and we got no rain. But the Christians were only praying for a few minutes and God sent a deluge upon the earth and has given us all the rain we needed. There is only one God, that is the God of the believers." I had the joy of leading many of those pagans and Muslims to Jesus.…" (From a sermon delivered on December 4, 1977, by Dr. Frank M Barker, Junior, now pastor emeritus at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham Alabama)
Friends, we are in desperate times. We are in extremity! It is time to pray! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthews 7:7 and 8)
It is my earnest prayer and expectation for each of you that you and I will be challenged to pray in the name of Jesus for the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached and proclaimed in America and around the world and that God would pull down these ungodly strongholds and bring many to repentance toward Him and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.He is able, you know, to do exceeding abundantly above all that we even ask or think. Ask and seek and knock in Jesus name in faith doubting not to His glory. Amen.
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