Dec 302016
 

Prayer answering GodFor everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:8)

This verse is almost a carbon copy of the previous verse. It mentions asking, seeking and knocking, the subjects we have been looking at over the last 3 weeks. And once again it asserts that these activities will be answered positively when we persevere.

If anything is repeated in the bible, we should especially take notice because God is trying to get our attention. These two verses combine together to show that God is serious when He promises to answer our prayers of persistence.

Let me just remind you though that these prayers are for the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and His generous provision of spiritual blessings. God has no problem answering our prayers for healing, material provision or other things, but they are not guaranteed. What He will always answer in the affirmative is our requests for spiritual blessings.

When God promises, you can be sure that He will deliver. He is not a God who would lie or be deceitful (Numbers 23:19). He is honest and trustworthy and although we may need to press in and keep asking, He will certainly answer our prayers. When God promises something, there is no stronger guarantee! As we saw before, He is requesting us to ask Him, He really wants that relationship with us as He knows that is what will do us the most good. It is all for our benefit.

We need to be in tune with God’s heart and that will only come through developing a relationship with Him. When we know Him well, we are going to be praying the sorts of prayers that please Him. There are many examples of these sorts of prayers in the bible. When we are not in tune, we are more likely to pray with selfish motives or prayers that are outside of His perfect will. The trouble is these unanswered prayers can cause bitterness and resentment in our hearts. We can just assume (wrongly) that God doesn’t want to answer our prayers or that He is distant or mean spirited. He is none of these.

I have prayed many prayers in the past that I have assumed are in God’s will and certain that He will answer, but when I look back, I can see that actually He had a much better plan all along. God knows the end from the beginning and every permutation of life. That is why He doesn’t always answer in the way or manner we expect. When we submit to Him and acknowledge that He knows best, we will find that our prayers are answered much more regularly, because we are not praying what we think is best but with a quiet confidence that His perfect will is the best path.

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Dec 232016
 

KnockingAsk, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

God has invited us to have an amazing relationship with Him, through prayer. It is clear from this passage that He is not necessarily going to answer all our prayers straight away and in the manner we want, but He has encouraged us to keep going. To keep badgering Him. He knows that in the constant seeking, our faith and trust will grow stronger and our relationship will deepen. Prevailing prayer does not mean that God is unwilling to give until we twist His arm and He finally gives in. It is so that He can develop and purify us. God knows exactly what we want before we ask, but He loves to draw out of us the desires He has first placed in our hearts. It is a mystery to us, but the bible makes it clear repeatedly that is how God likes to do things.

and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:7)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18)

I don’t necessarily think that the list in the passage today of; asking, seeking and knocking is necessarily in ascending order of desperation. For example we’ve tried asking, so we then put a bit more effort in and seek and if all else fails we try knocking. I don’t think it matters. Jesus is encouraging us, in whatever way we seek Him, to do it tenaciously and persistently. That is the principle.

Looking at today’s word – knocking, suggests we are at a door and we are trying to get the attention of the occupant on the other side of the door. This is something that Jesus himself does, when He tries to get the attention of the church at Laodicea, who have somehow left Him on the outside!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

If He can do it out of love and a desire for relationship, we can certainly respond in the same way, following his example.

The tenacity required is the spirit shown by Jacob who wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32. He declared “I will not let you go unless you bless me. (Genesis 32:26)

The more we ‘press in’ the more we get to know God’s ways. We will never reach an adequate understanding of God if we only shoot up a quick prayer every now and again. Prayer is jolly hard work but very rewarding. Whatever you are asking for, keep knocking until your knuckles hurt!

I’ll finish this blog with a quote from the great evangelist and missionary, George Muller

The great point is never to give up until the answer comes,” said Muller. “I have been praying for sixty-three years and eight months for one man’s conversion. He is not converted yet, but he will be! How can it be otherwise?”

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount 1 Response »
Dec 162016
 

Why I blogI only just recently noticed that this blog was going to be my 250thso I thought I would just depart from my long running series looking at ‘The sermon on the mount’ and just write a few reflections about why I write these blogs.

The first one was over 4 and a half years ago, on 6th April 2012. If you want, you can read it here http://adrianpursglove.com/whats-so-good-about-good-friday/

I hadn’t originally intended to write Christian blogs. I started creating websites to see if I could earn some money through internet marketing. Basically, you set up websites about specific subjects and then put links to products for people to buy. Every time they buy something you get a very small percentage. Sounds great but the reality is not so easy and you have to find ways of getting up the google rankings so that people can actually find the sites.

My heart wasn’t really in it, but I discovered that God was using this journey of creating websites to start this blog. I definitely have a heart to share God’s word with as many people as possible and I have learned a lot to share in my 45 years as a Christian. I love the bible and I love it when God reveals fresh insights with me. I don’t have the opportunity to preach, so writing was the best vehicle for me to share all that I have learned.

In the early days I wrote more than one blog a week, but after a while I got into a pattern of producing one each week and I don’t think I have missed a week for a good few years. I sometimes wonder if anyone actually reads them, but every now and again I get some lovely comments and it really encourages me. I hope if you are reading this that you have found these blogs helpful. Please do feel free to write in the comments section, especially if I have not been very clear, or even if you have any future subjects you would like me to tackle. My prayer is that through the reading of these you will feel closer to God and understand His word more.

If you want to read any of the previous 249 blogs, why not check out the archive section at the top of the page?

Next week we will return to look at the third aspect of Matthew 7:7 ‘knocking’) following asking and seeking. Until then, God bless and thanks for reading.

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Dec 092016
 

seekAsk, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

Last week we looked at the amazing invitation by God to ask him for spiritual blessings. This week we will consider what we do when those blessings aren’t immediately forthcoming.

If you have been a Christian for even a short amount of time, you will have realised that when we come to God in prayer we don’t always get everything we ask for immediately.

We have already encountered the word ‘seek’ a few verses back when we considered Jesus’ encouragement to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Seeking God is a very important part of our relationship. It shows how desperate we are for Him. If someone asks for something only once and then gives up, we could conclude that they didn’t really want it that much in the first place. But if someone is tenacious and persistent in their request, it is obvious that they will not take no for an answer and desperately want the thing that they are requesting.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 18:1-8 of a determined widow who constantly badgered an unjust judge with a request. She wore him down with her persistence and eventually got what she wanted. How much more will our loving heavenly father give us good gifts when we persist?

God really doesn’t want us to give up. See what Paul says in the letter to the Galatians

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Just like asking, God has invited us to seek. It is initiated by Him

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

This section of ‘The sermon on the mount’ is about prayer, but on a deeper level it is about our desire for God and determination to know Him more and have more of Him in our lives.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

If God would answer every request we made immediately, our relationship would be a lot shallower. A lot can happen on the journey of waiting. God can develop our character, deepen our reliance and cultivate our faith and so much more. The longer we wait the more glorious and satisfying when the answer eventually comes.

I want to end with an encouragement that God has promised in this verse to answer this prayer. Some things we ask for we won’t necessarily get. But when we seek after God himself He has promised He will answer. It might not necessarily be straight away, but if we pursue Him with determination and not give up, we will surely gain our reward. If you are about to give up, keep seeking, the answer could be just around the corner.

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »

Ask

Dec 022016
 

AskAsk, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

I’m going to look at the 3 aspects of this verse (asking, seeking and knocking) over the next few weeks as they are all slightly different.

This verse, like quite a few others we have looked at recently, has been misinterpreted and taken out of context.

It has been misused by people who take this verse to mean we can ask for whatever we want. You may have heard of the phrase ‘name it and claim it’. Basically the idea is that we can ask for whatever we want and as long as we have enough faith and enough tenacity we will get it. People have taken it to extremes to ask for cars, houses, boats, lottery wins… you name it they’ll claim it!

In the context of what Jesus has already been speaking about, this cannot be the application. He has already been speaking about providing for our material ‘needs’ but has never suggested that we can ask for everything we want. This verse comes soon after Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and I believe in these verses He is encouraging us to pray and ask for spiritual blessings. Let’s look at the parallel passage in Luke 11 which is more specific;

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

So it is the Holy Spirit we are to ask for. The Holy Spirit is the source of all our spiritual blessings and greatest joy. So much better than any material possessions we could ever acquire.

Today’s word is simply ‘ask’, which highlights our relationship we are to have with our heavenly father. Throughout the bible it is clear that God loves to have a relationship with us and us coming to him and asking Him is a great way of maintaining and even strengthening that relationship. I immediately think of my own relationship as a parent with my children and how I love to give them things when they come to me and ask.

We can often think of prayer as a last resort, after we have tried every other avenue with our own resources. But God wants us to come to Him first. It would actually save an awful lot of trouble. I’m sure we would see a lot more answers to our prayers if we did so. The actual phrase is in what is called the ‘present imperative’ so the phrase should be ‘keep on asking’.

The word ‘ask’ is found 71 times in the New Testament alone and many times in the Old Testament such as:

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:8)

It is God’s invitation. He has taken the initiative by saying we can ask, it is now down to us to actually do the asking.

I’ll leave you with a thought provoking verse on this subject from James;

You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2)

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:00 pm Prayer, The sermon on the mount No Responses »