Spiritual Beggars Satisfied: Jesus Teaches Us to Ask and Act (Matthew Sermon 21 of 151)

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Spiritual Beggars Satisfied: Jesus Teaches Us to Ask and Act (Matthew Sermon 21 of 151)

June 20, 1999 | Andrew Davis
Matthew 7:7-12
Prayer, Gospel and Ethics

I. An Uncertain Future: Abraham called to venture forth

In  Matthew chapter 7 we're going to look at some of the most thrilling promises that God has ever made to us, most sweeping, and ultimately, potentially, life transforming if understood properly.  In a small Samaritan village a woman, who was living in shame, got up in the middle of the day, took a water pitcher and went to a well.  She carried her empty water pitcher toward the well, and as she approached, she saw a man sitting on the well. By his dress, she recognized him to be a Jewish man.  She figured there wouldn't be any conversation between the two of them, for Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans, and he was a man sitting alone. She would get her water quickly and go back home.   But suddenly, she was stunned by the sound of his voice. "Give me a drink," he said. Stunned by this, she said, "How is it that you, a Jew, are speaking to me, a Samaritan woman?" Jesus said to her, "If you knew who it was that was speaking to you, who it is that's asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would've given you living water."  Let us look at just this statement to her by Jesus.  If you really knew who it is with whom you can question, Jesus Christ, would  you ask Him? I would hope that you would ask Him — ask Him for all kinds of things. You'd be living a life of asking, because that is exactly what God wants you to do. He has limitless resources. You know that. You know that God has infinite resources, but what you may not know is that you have limitless needs, and that's the whole rub, isn't it?   God has called us to bring our neediness, all of our emptiness to Him and allow Him to fill it up, and the connection between it all is this simple thing of asking.  And so, Jesus teaches us here in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. Which of you, if his children ask for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

 II. Difficult questions of context

 Anyone who's heard me preach any length of time knows that I always like to begin at this point in the sermon to set our text in context.  Any verse taken out of context can tell a lie.  Any verse taken out of context can be twisted to any meaning at all.  How much more a sweeping promise like, "Ask for anything you want and it will be given to you" and how often that kind of concept has been taken out of context?  We need to understand the context of what we just read.   There are  some scholars who look at the Sermon on the Mount as a collection of individual teachings of Jesus much like the Book of Proverbs which was an assembly of Solomon's statements of wisdom in which one really has nothing to do with the other.  I don't think that's true.  I think as you look at the Sermon of the Mount, it's presented by Matthew as having been given all at once right through at one time, because in chapter 8 when Jesus finishes, it says, "When He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him."  It would be somewhat deceptive of Matthew to portray it as having been given all in one place at one time, and then we find out later it was compiled.  If it was all given in one place at one time, then we have to believe that Jesus had an order and an organization to what He was teaching, so we have to see these verses in context.

I think the best context for  these verses is to understand a whole parentheses or inclusion in the middle of the Sermon of the Mount beginning back at Matthew 5:17.  Back at Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, "Do not think that I've come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them." And then just a few verses down, He says, "I tell you the truth, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."  If you look at  Matthew 5:17 and then you look up at  Matthew 7:12, you see the connection: the idea of the fulfilling or the summing up of the Law and the Prophets.  There's this whole big section here explaining how Jesus has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and how He does that in such a way that righteousness in His hearers surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  What is the connection?  How can we connect Matthew 7:7-11 and Matthew 7:12?  They seem to have nothing to do with each other.  We're hearing about asking and fathers giving gifts to their children, and then suddenly, it says, "So in everything, do to others what you'd have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." That's what I'm going to try to answer with this sermon.  How powerful is the asking, the seeking, the knocking that Jesus commands from us today. 

But there's another question of context and that is, what is the context of the commands to ask and seek and knock in the whole Bible, the whole New Testament?  Is it really true that we can ask for anything we want?  That's a very important question, isn't it?  What is it you want?  What would you ask for?  Have you ever heard that prayer?  The pop song that says, "Lord, won't You buy me a Mercedes Benz?"  Is that what Jesus means when He says, ask.  It's a prayer, isn't it? Lord, won't You buy me a Mercedes Benz?  We have a whole school of teaching, which is called “Name it and claim it. “ You look around the world if something looks good to you, then just name it and then claim it as yours in Jesus' name.   All you have to do is cite a verse like this.  Is that what Jesus has in mind?   We already dealt with that in Matthew Chapter 6.  It says that we're not supposed to store up treasure for ourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  So I can guarantee you anything that moth and rust can destroy and thieves can break in and steal, is not the focus of Matthew 7:7-11.  What does Jesus have in mind?  I think He has in mind a kind of righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of law and  how it is, that we get it.  How can we live like children of the kingdom? 

I think it should be the desire of every Christian's heart to be just like Jesus. The question is, how do I get there from here?  How do I take that journey?  What do I do so I can be just like Jesus?  These verses, I think, answer that question.  How can we live like Jesus?  How can we sum up the law and the prophets?  How is it that in everything we can do to others what we would have them do to us?  How can we live that kind of life?  Jesus tells us, ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.  Let's look more carefully at  verse 7. 

III. A Striking Command & A Marvelous Promise: Given Once, Twice, Three Times

We have  in verse 7 a striking command and a marvelous promise.  It’s not given once, it's not given twice, it's given three times.  Is Jesus trying to tell us something here through the repetition?  Absolutely. He wants us to ask.  He wants us to seek.  He wants us to knock.  And so, He gives a command.  Why does it come to us in a command form?  It's because of who we are; it's because of our natural state.  We naturally underestimate our need.  We naturally think of ourselves, spiritually at least, as okay.   We may lack that that Mercedes Benz  so we think we need to pray for those things, but in terms of who I am as a person, we think  I'm basically okay.  I'm basically fine.  Jesus speaking to the people of Laodicea put it this way.  In Revelation 3:17, He said, you do not... "You say, I am rich. I've acquired wealth and do not need a thing." I've acquired wealth and I don't need anything. "But you do not realize, you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”  “That's who you truly are." Now, all of this should sound vaguely familiar.  The very first  verse of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said,   “Blessed are the…” what?  “Spiritual beggars, for theirs, and theirs alone is the kingdom of Heaven.”  You don't enter the kingdom of Heaven full.  You don't enter talking about how you're rich and don't need a thing.  You enter the kingdom of Heaven as a spiritual beggar saying, "I need you, Lord, I need your salvation."  What Jesus is saying to us here in these verses is that you have to continue to be a spiritual beggar if you want to continue growing.  For those of you who haven't grown at all in 10 years or 20 years spiritually, it's because you didn't obey the text that we're looking at today.  You stopped asking, you stopped seeking, you stopped knocking, and therefore you stopped growing.  Today, for you, I hope, is a wake-up call.  Come back to this text and resume your growth, resume your progress in spiritual maturity through asking, seeking, and knocking.  He commands us to ask and He commands us to seek, and He commands us to knock, and all of these three underscore our need.  You don't ask if you're not needy. You don't seek if you already have the thing you're looking for.  You don't knock if there's not something you want behind that door.  It underscores neediness.

Persistence in Seeking 

It underscores more than that., and though you may not know it, the real lesson here is not just asking, seeking, and knocking, it is persistent asking, persistent seeking, persistent knocking.  I haven't found a good English translation of these verses. Let me read to you what I think they should say. Keep on asking and it will be given to you.  Keep on seeking and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who keeps on asking, receives.  Everyone who keeps on seeking, finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will most certainly be opened.  Do you see the difference?  One is a sense of, "I asked, I did it once and He didn't answer. I give up."  No, He says, keep on, keep on, keep on asking.  It's persistence.  There is I think, a temporary attraction to the Christian life.  We see it all around us.  People who are lured in initially by  Christianity  because it  looks good.  There's a purity to the ethic, a purity to the way of life., and it's attractive.  You read through the Sermon on the Mount and you say, "This is a higher kind of life. I like this kind of life."  And so, people set sail in the Christian endeavor, the Christian adventure.  But it's not very long that that ship which has set sail runs into some storms and wants to head back to port.  Or to use another analogy, the person who's excitedly taking faith steps, maybe attending some Bible studies, starts to grow, meets some challenges, meets some opposition, and like a candle begins to fizzle or flicker,  and after awhile, the light has gone out.  What happened?  They failed to persevere. They fail to persist as a spiritual beggar. The issue here is persistent asking, persistent seeking, persistent knocking. Persistent prayer.  The idea is  that we're to be asking God. We're to be seeking from God, we are to be knocking on God's door.  We're persistent in prayer.  Ask God, make your request known to God. Seek from God.  Search something diligently from Him, knocking on God's door.  All of this again, underscores us as spiritual beggars.  Do you like to think of yourself as a spiritual beggar?  I actually rejoice in that title.  I've come to see that that's my highest place. " When I'm weak, I'm strong," Paul said, "when I'm empty, that's when I'm fullest.  When I know that I'm needy, that's when God gives me everything I need. But when I'm self sufficient, when I'm satisfied, when I'm full and strong, that's when I'm at my worst."  It's the asking, the seeking, the knocking that God commands.  It's an amazing command, but  along with it comes a beautiful promise.  Each command brings a promise.  “Ask and it will be given to you.  Seek and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Each command has its own promise, and it's the same promise.

So we're seeing the beautiful, the majestic, the generous grace of God here.  He wants to lavish on your requests, if you just understand how you are to ask.   I've already been talking to you about persistence.  You may ask to me, why do we need persistence?  Why do I have to persevere in my prayers?  Why isn't one prayer enough?  Why is it, keep on asking and it will be given to you, etcetera? The question is, what is God doing through all of this?  Could God give you your request as soon as you asked?  Is God capable of doing that?  Of course He is.  He can do anything.  There are times in your Christian life when you do ask and immediately He answers.  There are times like that, but usually that's not His way.  Usually He makes you wait. So what is the purpose behind the delay? Why is He not immediately answering us? There is a purpose to the delay.  It's not accidental.  God is doing something in your life. 

 Even if you ask for the right thing, He may make you wait for it.  Jesus told a parable in Luke 18 of the persistent widow.  As Luke frequently does in his gospel, he gives a beautiful one sentence introduction that is worth its weight in gold.  It says in Luke 18:1, "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up." They should always pray and never give up. The underlying assumption back then is that you're going to need perseverance.  God is not going to be like a vending machine to you, drop a few quarters in it and out it comes. We are an impatient people, aren't we?  You know what I think has led to our impatience? Technology. How fast is your modem?  Is it faster than the one you had before?  It's always going faster and faster. 

 How many people 100 years ago would expect to go into a place that served food and get their lunch in less than five minutes?  How many people would expect that? But yet, how many of us have walked into McDonald's and been impatient because there were only three people behind the counter and not four? Have you ever been impatient at a McDonald's?  Has it ever happened to you?  We are an impatient people. You can be impatient anywhere.  You can be impatient at an automatic car wash because the guy ahead of you is taking a little extra time on his hubcaps.  It's our technology that makes us impatient.  We are an impatient people.  God will not be hurried.  He will not be rushed.  He's doing something through the delay.  He's stretching you out by making you want it.  The whole key is what you want.

 Jesus told another parable, the parable of the friend at midnight.  I don't know if you remember this one in Luke 11.  "Suppose one of you had a friend," Jesus said, "and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread.'"  What do you think people in a culture before electricity were doing at midnight?  Well, they weren't watching the Late Show. What do you think they were doing? When I spent a summer in Kenya, when the sun went down, the people went down, to bed pretty much. They had little gas lanterns, but gas is expensive, and why stay up? They were up when the sun was up. What were you doing at midnight? You're sleeping. What is your friend doing coming and knocking on your door? Well, he needs to borrow some bread. "Go away, I'm in bed. Why are you bothering me?" 'Will you please give me some food? I'm not gonna go away." What are you going to do if you keep hearing this persistent knocking?  You're going to get out of bed and give him what he wants, so he'll go away.  You know he's not going to go away any other way. Why did Jesus choose such a strange story to teach us to persevere in prayer? He's using an argument from the lesser to the greater.  You're an impatient person, and yet you will give that person what he wants.  We are self-centered people, and yet we understand the principles of giving when someone asks from us.  Jesus says, in terms of that unjust judge, this widow keeps coming and coming.  And he's an evil man, and yet he gives her what she wants because of her perseverance.  And how much more will your loving Heavenly Father give it to you if you just persevere? In all of this, he is teaching us perseverance in prayer.

 IV. The Promise Intensified

In verse eight, He intensifies the promise. He says, "For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened."  There's not much to add here except that you need to understand how much Jesus wants you to ask, seek, and knock.  He's intensifying it.  Everyone who asks, keeps on asking, I should say, receives.  If you're in the category of the persistent spiritual beggar, you will get what you're asking for.   Just stay with it. This is incredible, remarkable power in prayer God is giving us.  A universal promise of answering prayer.  So why do we not receive? James tell us very plainly. "You do not have because you do not ask God." You do not have because you do not ask God. If you're the same, in terms of your Christian character, that you were 10 years ago, it's because you failed at this point. You didn't keep asking, you didn't keep seeking. You didn't keep knocking. We didn't believe His promise.

 V. The Promise Exemplified

In verses 9 through 11, Jesus works even harder. He intensifies it with an example. He exemplifies the promise. "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" Now back in those days, bread was in little loaves, like a barley loaf would look somewhat like a stone. Can you imagine a sadistic father who would take and exchange a barley loaf for a stone just for the pleasure of seeing his son break his tooth when he bit down trusting his father?  Now, we may be evil, and Jesus says that we are.   He says, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your loving, good, gracious, Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask?"  How many of you, fathers, would take delight in seeing your son trust you for something and have him break his tooth on the rock you gave him.  I don't know anyone like that. And yet what's so amazing about this is that Satan tries to tell us that that's the way God is.  He's deriving some kind of pleasure out of getting us to keep asking for something he's never has any intention of giving it to us.  God isn't that way.  He's a loving God.  And he wants to use the process of asking, seeking, and knocking to accomplish His ends.  Jesus here, in verses 9 through 11 is using that familiar style of arguing from the lesser to the greater, just like He did with anxiety. Remember what He said about anxiety? He said, "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into fire, will He not," here are the keywords, "much more clothe you, oh you of little faith." You remember?  Well, here in the same way, He says that, "We evil fathers, know how to give good gifts to our children. How much more will will a good Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask."  I hope you're not offended by the word evil in there.  Or maybe you should be, I don't know.  But the testimony clearly is that every single last one of us has sin in our lives.  All of us fathers can testify to the selfishness and how hard it is to be truly generous and giving to our families.  Jesus, when the rich young ruler came to Him, questioned about what is good, He said, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good, God alone."  And so, we are evil fathers but we do love our children ,don't we?  And we know how to give good gifts to them. "How much more will thou righteous Father give good gifts to those who ask?" 

God’s Good Gifts

The question key is simply this, what is a good gift?  Isn't that the key to this whole thing? What is a good gift?  Well, we've already ruled out the Mercedes Benz but there may be other good gifts out there.  You maybe you want to look around and see. It says in James, a passage I just quoted,  "You do not have because you do not ask God," but it continues, "When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  So if there's an earthly, carnal  pleasure side to it, that's not what's in view here.  That's not what we should be asking for, not what we should be seeking, not what we should be knocking on the door for.  We would just weed those things right out. We should have already learned from the end of Mathew 6 that we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. That's what we're to be asking for, His kingdom and His righteousness.

And so, that is good gift number one, God's kingdom.  Seek first His kingdom.  So I speak to any of you who don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  There is no greater gift that God can give you than eternal life through His son Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift than entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven where all your sins, past, present, and future, are cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ because He died on the cross in your place.  Is there a greater good gift than that?  And so, ask, and seek, and knock, and God will give you incredible riches— forgiveness of all sins, adoption into His family, your name written up in Heaven.—a permanent place in an eternal place that no one can take away from you —and then a life worth living full of good works, which God never forgets and which He will reward. Ask and all of that will be yours. If you don't know Him, today for you is the day of salvation. 

But for those of you who are already Christians, can you ask and seek and knock in regard to the kingdom?  You should be every time you pray the Lord's prayer —Your kingdom come, remember that?  We're supposed to be praying about the coming of the kingdom.  God will give good gifts, and there are sub gifts too. There's a little steps along to the coming of the kingdom. We could pray in reference to our church, that God would bring 10 people to faith in Christ through our outreach, who do not know Jesus , and then  we would see those 10 people baptized . Can you pray a prayer like that?  That's the advance of the kingdom, why not?  Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find.  Pray about the kingdom, pray about the advance of the kingdom.  But also pray about his righteousness, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.  Righteousness is total conformity to the character of Jesus Christ. When I get to the end of this sermon I'll give you an application, which God gave me this week which I think could  change your life, but you'll have to wait. We'll do that, all things in good order.  We should be seeking the righteousness of Christ, we should be more like Jesus now than we were a year ago. We should be less like Jesus now than we will be a year from now. We should be growing in Christ, like maturity. Ask, seek, knock and it will be given to you.

 Good gift number three is the Holy Spirit.  In a restatement of this teaching in Luke 11 it says, "If you then, though you're evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?" The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, comes and lives inside anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ.  Then the Holy Spirit begins to move, begins to take over.  You have a spiritual gift which you can use in service to the church of God.  He begins to put sin to death in your life, He begins to convict you.  He calls you to move out, its an energetic life.  And you begin to move and you begin to change and to be transformed, and all of that came because you asked.  And you can ask, "Oh Lord, let me submit to the leadership of the spirit today.  Oh God, give me, or grant me a willing spirit to sustain me today that I may keep in step with the spirit." Galatians 5:26. I want to keep in step with Him.

 But the ultimate good gift, good gift number four, is God Himself.  Is there a greater gift than that?  Is there a greater gift than God Himself?  And He will give Himself to any who seek Him. It says in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and you will find me when you seek with all your heart."  You see how it really does come down to what you really want?  If you search for God, you will find Him with all your heart.  Psalm 42:1, "As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for You, oh God." My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?  A hungry and a thirsty heart, God will not despise but He will satisfy.  And so we can pray these kinds of prayers. "Oh God, let me see Your face. Oh God, let me put this sin to death. Oh God, let me be a truly humble person. Oh God, give me the boldness of a lion to share the Gospel with my neighbor. God, give me the peace of Christ to control my heart and not be anxious. Oh God, make me a truly persistent prayer warrior. That's what I want to be." All of these are the requests of a spiritual beggar, aren't they?  God will grant each and every one of them to those who keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, and don't give up.

 VI. The Golden Rule

That brings us to verse 12, the puzzling Golden Rule.  It says in verse 12, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  This is one of the most remarkable single statements in all the Bible.  Only Jesus could take the entire Old Testament law, that has to do with how we relate to one another, and sum it up in this few number of words.  "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Some critics say that this was not original with Jesus.   Confucius said, about 500 years before Jesus lived, said, "Whatever you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others." The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "What you avoid suffering yourself, do not inflict on others." Jewish Rabbi Hillel said, "What is hateful to yourself, do not do to someone else." And the ancient Greek King Nicocles said, "Do not do to others the things which make you angry when you experience them at the hands of someone else." What do you notice about those four statements? They're all negative.

Back in the 17th century, there was an instrument called the harpsichord. Do you know the difference between a harpsichord and a piano? It's just a subtle difference.  A harpsichord plucks the string, whereas a pianoforte strikes the string. And the harder you strike the string, the louder the piano gets, whereas a harpsichord stays at the same level. Subtle change, but all the difference in the world, Jesus said, "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Now, you could go into a room, if you had enough food and water, and lock yourself in there the rest of your life and fulfill what Confucius commanded simply by not interacting. But you can't fulfill the Golden Rule that way. You have to get out in the world. You have to interact with needy people. You have to be energetic. It's limitless, bottomless. It tends to crush us, doesn't it? Can you really live up to the Golden Rule? It's a challenge, isn't it? 

And Jesus said, "It sums up the Law and the Prophets." What did the Pharisees use the Law and the Prophets to do? To crush people. "Oh, you're carrying your mat on the Sabbath, ten demerits." Alright. That's what they used the Law and the Prophets for. What did Jesus use the Law and the Prophets for?  To bless others. What a change —  a righteousness which surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. It surpasses it negatively and positively. Negatively, it does no harm to the neighbor. So the Golden Rule would never harm the neighbor, but, positively, it gets out and acts. If you were hungry, would you want somebody to feed you? If you were thirsty, would you want somebody to give you something to drink? If you were a stranger, would you want somebody to invite you in? If you needed clothes, would you want someone to clothe you? If you were sick or imprisoned, would you want someone to visit you? Then do it for others.  That's the Golden Rule.  Now, the Golden Rule can be devastating.  It really looks good cross-stitched and hung up on a wall, if you can get a nice frame.  But what good is that? The key thing here is to live the Golden Rule, and how many of us can do that?  Can you live out the Golden Rule every day?  I would just ask you go back a few verses, and begin asking, begin seeking, begin knocking.  Say, "Oh God, work the Golden Rule in me today.  God, I pray that with everyone I meet today, I would interact with them the way that I would want them to interact with me.  God, I pray that You would give me the energy, the zeal, the resources whereby I can fulfill the Golden Rule. I'm a spiritual beggar. The Golden Rule crushes me, God. I can't live up to it, but God work it in me. And I pray that I would more nearly fulfill the Golden Rule today than I did a year ago, and that I would continue to grow so that it is more and more a part of the way I look at every single day the rest of my life."  That's the way I want to live my life, as a spiritual beggar.

VII. Application

 Matthew 6:33: "Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you."  If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today, you are under the wrath of God.  That's a clear testimony of the Scripture [John 3:36].  What that means is that God is keeping a record of your sins and you are storing up  the wrath of God [Romans 2:5] for a great day of judgement.  Come out from under the wrath of God, come to faith in Christ today, ask that God would take all of your sin and remove it from you forever, so that you don't have to feel the weight of it on Judgment Day.   Ask for all your sins to be forgiven, and they will be, in Christ name. T hat's the power of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Ask to be able to go to Heaven when you die, and it will be given to you.  Ask to be adopted into God's own family, and you will be adopted.  Ask to have your name written in Heaven, and it will be written and no one can erase it.  Ask to have Jesus live in your heart, and He will most certainly enter and begin re-arranging and living His life inside you.  Ask for the Holy Spirit to come inside, and He will most certainly guide you.

For those of you who have already done that, ask for His kingdom to grow here at First Baptist, pray for this church, and not just for this church, but pray for the world.  As the scripture says, we should have our eyes in the whole world.  God's glory will be covering the world as the waters cover the sea.  I would challenge you to take on two prayer burdens. In seeking  the kingdom of God, ask God, over the next week or month, to give you a prayer burden for missionary concerns around the world.  Pray for it every day for a year.  Make it specific and measurable, but pray for it every day for a year. 

 The second application is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. What is this righteousness?  Whatever you want when it comes to the character of Jesus Christ, you can have.  What do you see in Jesus?  Do you see him bold?  You can be bold.  Do you see him gentle?  You can be gentle.  Do you see him humble?  You can be humble.  Do you see him pure?  You can be pure.  I would suggest that you take second Peter 1:5-7 or Galatians 5:22 - 23 and look them up when you go home. They are lists of virtues. Galatians 5 is the fruit of the spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 2 Peter 1:5 says, "Make every effort to add to your faith ,goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; to self control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness; and brotherly kindness, love.

Look at that list, and go to somebody whom you trust and that you know who is a spirit-filled Christian.  Open up the passage and say, "Of all these attributes, which do you think I need to grow in the most?" and have the humility to listen.  Don't fight back.  Just say, "Okay, I'm going to take that virtue and I'm going to pray it for myself, every day for a year.  And I'm going to come back, and if we we're still together a year from now,  I'm going to  ask you if you see me as a more humble person, or if you see me as less given to anger, or if you see me as more Christ-like in that specific way."  Every day, keep on asking, and it will be given to you. Test me on this, keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking and you will see yourself more Christ-like a year from now, than you are now.  What virtue do you want to grow in over the next year?  Keep on asking, and it will be given.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will most certainly be opened to you.

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