Sunday June 14th 2020. We continue our new sermon series entitled ‘Opening Times’. Preaching from Chris Hughes.
The over all theme of this chapter is relationships. But then right at its very heart (v 7 – 11) the flow is rudely interrupted by some teaching on prayer, a subject that Jesus had earlier covered in the Sermon on the Mount (Chapter 6 v 5 – 13.) So why is it located here? Jesus transitions from our relationships with one another, to our relationship with our heavenly Father, because in order to make human relationships work, we need divine grace, and we receive this through prayer. Such prayer has three constituent parts: –
Even though God knows our needs (Matthew 6 v 8) we still need to ask because this is the way in which we receive (James 4 v 2.) To enable us to ask we have direct access to God, and by doing we declare our dependence upon him.
Having asked we then need to expect, and to seek diligently for the answer (1 Thessalonians 5 v 17.)
We are to persist in knocking on the door (Luke 11 v 5 – 8) not in order to overcome God’s reluctance to answer, but to demonstrate our desire to receive what we have requested (Genesis 33 v 26.)
Challenge – Are you continually asking, seeking and knocking in prayer, without growing weary?
When we fulfil our part, the faithful promises of God, who is to be addressed as Father (Matthew 6 v 9), then “kick in.” Those who ask, receive; those who seek, find, and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
This does not mean that we will get all that we want, for prayer is not a magic wand that casts a spell on God making him do what we want. But what it does mean is that God will not mock our prayers, or to give us substandard replacements that could harm us (a stone or a snake), but instead he will always give us “good gifts.”
But what are these “good gifts?” The parallel passage in one of the other Gospel’s provides us with the answer – “How much more will your Father in heaven give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask him” (Luke 11 v 13.) While God the giver offers his creation gifts (life, the seasons, food) to all; he specifically gives his redemptive gifts to his spiritual children, with these “good gifts” making up the comprehensive work of the Holy Spirit in the believers life.
And so, it is these “good gifts” of the Holy Spirit that we need to be asking for, seeking after, and knocking until we receive them. Things like – The fullness of the Spirit (Ephesians 5 v 18); the assurance of our salvation (Romans 8 v 16); the renewal of the mind (Romans 12 v 2); help in formulating our prayers (Romans 8 v 26); help in understanding and obeying the teaching of the Bible (John 16 v 13); Christ likeness (Galatians 5 v 22 – 23); spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12 v 7); and victory in the battle over sin and Satan (Ephesians 6 v 10 – 20.)
Challenge – Are you praying for these “good gifts” associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
1 – Make an inventory of the relationships that you struggle with and take some time out to pray for divine grace to cope with or change them?
2 – What is your primary image of God? What conjured up such an image? Does it need to change in the light of Biblical revelation?
3 – Give some consideration to the list of “good gifts” and pray for those where you feel somewhat lacking?
- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
- Breathe on me breath of God
- Father God I wonder
- The King is among us
- What a friend we have in Jesus
Theme: The open door to God’s good gifts
Reading: Matthew 7 v 7 – 11
Preacher: Chris Hughes