Persevering prayer 7

Persevering prayer 7

Persevering prayer and action

“”Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬

There is a famous Christian saying, Ora et labora, it means, pray and work.

Although our passage mainly deals with prayer, seeking God’s face and knocking at heaven’s door, it has a wider application. And that is of working, doing. It is not enough to pray. God doesn’t only want us to pray, he wants us to take action and work. In South Africa we have this problem of unemployment, I think our unemployment rate before the coronavirus outbreak was about 30% and probably by now it is higher. Many Christians are without a job.

So, what do we do when we don’t have a job or don’t have food on the table? We need to pray and seek for it. We need to knock on doors, not once or twice or ten times. We must do it continuously, without stopping until the door opens. We must work hard, and seek and knock until doors are opening. The problem with us Christians is that we lack tenacity, we lack perseverance, we lack importunity. We give up too easily. We are not willing to grab a hold of God and of men. We must not take no for an answer, when it comes to the things that we know is in God’s will.

God wants us to work. 

God wants us to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. 

God wants us to overcome our lusts and pride

God wants us to be pure in heart  and humble

God wants us to gain assurance of salvation 

God wants us to gain victory over anxiety and gossip

God wants us to provide for our families 

God wants us to labor in his kingdom 

God wants us to use means to advance the gospel

When we pray for these things, continuously, persistantly, God will grant our requests. But we must not give up too easily.

There is great blessing and power in persevering prayer!

But are you willing to obey?

Ask, and it will be given to you; 

seek, and you will find; 

knock, and it will be opened to you. 

For everyone who asks receives,

and he who seeks finds, 

and to him who knocks it will be opened

Believe it, and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey! Amen

 

Persevering prayer 6

Persevering prayer

The blessings and power of persevering prayer

In this passage God gives four precious promises:

7)““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

8)For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

9)Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10)Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

11)If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew‬

Christ, gives us three promises in the beginning and then repeats them,

8)For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be openen

I can hardly think of more precious things in the Bible. The blessing of persevering prayer and the power of persevering prayer come from God, in keeping his promises. When we pray continuously, like that widow in Luke 18 and when we ask for things that are on God’s heart He will answer and He will give us the things we ask for. God is all about fulfilling his promises to his children over and over again. That is the kind of God that He is. Faithful to his promises!

❖ Let’s take a few examples: We read of Moses in Exodus 32-34 where God wanted to destroy the Israelites and Moses interceded for the nation and God was merciful and spared them.

❖ We read of Peter locked up in prison after James his brother was killed and the church praying earnestly for Peter and then God answering and sending an angel to rescue Peter.

❖ We read of Elijah praying that for three years there would be no rain in Israel and God answering him. And then after three years him praying again and it rained. We can multiply examples.

❖ Think of Jacob, wrestling with the angel of God praying throughout the night, and saying, I will not leave you until you bless me! And God did bless him!

❖ We hear of Geoge Müller praying that thousands of orphans to be cared for and without solicitation God answered hundreds of prayers.

❖ Thinking about my own life, I can testify of many prayers God has answered, helping me finish my studies at university, guiding me, providing for me, helping me conquer besetting sins, giving me peace, forgiving my sins, making me strong, giving me a wife, and a child, answering so many prayers, countless prayers.

In our ministry of APC, I cannot tell you how many times God has answered our prayers in crossing borders, getting books in at the right time, undertaking for us, when we got stuck in Northern Nigeria, in Malawi and Tanzania in the middle of the night with flat tyres, in the middle of nowhere, in dangerous areas.

I am sure you can multiply examples as well, if I would ask you. 

There is power in persevering prayer, because there is power in God. His hand is not shortened to help us. There is blessing in persevering prayer. God will give us what we need. Jesus said: ask and you will receive that your joy may be full (John 16:30-33).

Any Christian that prays according to God’s will will receive countless answers to prayer. The question is, are you praying what is according to His will? (1 John 5:14-16).

Persevering prayer 5

Persevering prayer

The Content of persevering prayer

Now we want to look at the content of persevering prayer: let’s look at Jesus’ words again:

9)Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10)Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

11)If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Jesus said, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things, to those who ask Him.

What are the good things?

Are they Mecedes Benzes and beautiful houses at the seaside? 

Is it material prosperity or our best life now? 

Is it healing from all our diseases in this life?

When you take this text in its context, it definitely does not exclude food, clothes, our daily necessities and many things that will make life liveable , diapers for babies etc! Ask me, I have around one now! Money to study, clothes, sanitation, healthcare, political stability, and many other things. They are all good things, that our Heavenly Father wants to give us. BUT,

There are better things, than material things and toys that we need. They are spiritual things.

In Luke 11:13 we find Jesus, saying, instead of “how much more will your Father in heaven give you good things” how much more will your Father in heaven give you the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”

And I think that is what the good things in Matthew 7:10,11 are pointing to. They point to the things of the Spirit. And then we are back to the beautitudes again. What are the good things, the ultimate good things?

They are, off course, the eternal things, the things that money can’t buy, and that are part of God. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, patience, humility, self-control

Or as Jesus puts it:

Poverty of spirit, 

Mourning, brokenness 

Meekness, humility

Hunger after righteousness

Mercyfulness

Purity of heart

Peacableness 

Boldness for Righteosuness 

Suffering for righteousness

So, what are the prayers that God always answers?

Prayers for more of the fruit of the Spirit!!

In other words, prayers to be conformed to the image of Christ, prayers for more measures of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Now this doesn’t mean we should not pray for the sick, and those who who are unsaved and those who struggle with sins in their lives.

There are so many things to pray for, but we must focus on the best things, the things of the Spirit.

What I have found helpful is to make lists of what to pray for. And then revisit those lists. And see how God answers prayer.

Persevering prayer 4

Persevering prayer 4

The Motivation to persevering prayer

Jesus said:

9)Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10)Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

11)If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Here, again we see Jesus arguing from the lesser to the greater. If we who are evil give good things to our children, how much more will our Father in heaven give us good things.

We as Christians will never give evil things to our children. We will not give them poison when they ask for water. We will not give them snakes when they ask for fish or chicken. We will not give them gravel and stones when they ask for bread. We will not give them the filth of the world when they ask for salvation. We will not give them idols, we will give them Jesus! We will not deceive them, hurt them, plan their destruction and plot their failure, let them go hungry and destitute. We will do all in our power to care for them, provide for them, protect them, teach them about the Bible, lead them to Jesus, take them to church, pray for them. Take them to the doctor when they are ill.

Won’t we? If we are Christians, we will.

Now if this is true of Christians, the children of God, how much more of your Father who is in heaven, who is perfect in all his ways, who is holy in all he does, who is righteous and kind and good and forgiving and mercyfull?

This is the motivation for persevering prayer: God is infinitely good and wise and because He is our Father, He will give us what we need. He will take care of us. He will provide for us. He will save us from our sins and cleanse us and heal us. 

This is, like Martin Loyd Jones says, the greatest problem in people’s spiritual lives. They don’t believe God is a loving, compassionate and caring Father who looks out for them, who watches over them, who has their best interests at heart. They don’t really believe in his goodness and love.

And that is the reason they don’t visit him often in prayer. Why they don’t seek his face more frequently, why they don’t knock on his door incessantly. They think God is constantly angry with them or indifferent.

Jesus however, reminds us that our Father is caring, compassionate and loving. He is a provider, and a protector and a leader of his people. Jesus draws our attention, to this fact. God is much more willing to bless and keep you and provide for you, than you are willing to be blessed and to be kept and to be provided for. He has infinite resources. He has overflowing supplies of grace and mercy and power and holiness.

Draw your attention to God, as your Father. I hope certainly God is your Father! Because He is not the Father of all people! Let’s be clear about that once again. All people are not going to heaven. All have not been adopted into his family. You need to be born again, of the Spirit. You need to repent of your sins. You need to trust in Christ alone for salvation. You need to surrender all to Christ to become his child.

He who wants to save his life shall lose it. But he who loses his life for my sake shall find it. — Jesus. 

Persevering prayer 3

Persevering prayer 3

The Command to persevering prayer

7)““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Jesus makes it very plain. Again, he knows our need for Himself. He knows we cannot love or live or breathe or do anything without Him. He knows. He is the Master Physician. And because he knows all of our worries and anxieties and all of our worldliness and all of our judgementalism, and all our other sins, he gives us the cure for all our spiritual diseases: and that is: pray, seek the face of God, seek his strength and his fellowship and his presence.

James 4:3, the apostle, tells us: you do not have because you do not ask.

Jesus commands us: it is not a suggestion or a recommendation:

Jesus commands: ASK. SEEK. KNOCK.

These commands all point to the same thing or should we say, Person. God. Christ is commanding us to ask of him the things that we need. Christ is commanding us to seek his face, and will we then be content with other things? Christ is commanding us to knock at his door and enter into fellowship with Him. And as I said before, the asking and the seeking and the knocking is not just a thing that shoud happen when you have a need. That is what hypocrites do. They only come to God when there is a need. If the need is over they forget God. When they are hungry or unemployed or have marriage problems then they run to God and God helps them. But when their problem is fixed then they forget God.

When will we learn?

We will grow spiritually, we will advance spiritually when we take Jesus’ words to heart.

I want to ask you a personal question, how much time do you actually spend time with God alone in prayer each day?

10 minutes? 20 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour?

The examples we have of King David, Daniel, Jesus, Esra, Moses and others through church history, Luther, George Müller, Spurgeon and others, are that they would have prolonged periods of time of spending time with God. Why? Two things at least:

▪ they realized their desperate need for God 

▪ and secondly they loved to spend much time with God alone. 

If you do not spend much time, with God alone, it shows that you don’t love Him much or think that you don’t need Him much. It is actually very sad

Is the reason you struggle spiritually not because you spend so little time with God? I believe that is the bottomline. You love other things more than God.

We need to repent of these things.

God must be first in our hearts. He must rule supreme and He must be the Treaure of our lives. Nothing less!

So these commands of Jesus, are like medicine. They will heal you if you obey them. God will change you if you obey them.

Your worldliness and coveteousness and love of money will dissipate in the presence of the King of glory

Your anxiety will be flushed away if Christ is your trust and rock

Your judgementalism will be changed into love and forgiveness in the presence of God

Your hypocrisy will be crushed in the presence of the Holy Spirit

Persevering prayer 2

Persevering prayer 

Matthew 7:7-11

“If you being evil know how to give good things to your children…”

The Need for persevering prayer

Why is it that so many Christians are not praying? Why is it that we do not resort frequently to God in prayer? 

 

If you take this text in its context, we see that it comes just after two passages that dealt with worldliness, anxiety and judging others. Chapter 6 in the gospel of Matthew deals with our relationship to the Father and to the world. But chapter 7 of Matthew deals with the truth of God also as our Judge. Chapter 7 shows that God is not only the judge of unbelievers but also the judge of believers, but in a different sense. But taking all these dangers,we can say, in context, of worldliness, or anxiety, or judging others rashly, and condemning people in our hearts and you take chapter 5 of Matthew in consideration and Christ expounding to us the moral law, what should all these passages create in us?

One thing! You and I have a constant, desperate need for protection, preservation, forgiveness, and cleansing.

You know why so many Christians find it not necessary to pray?

They find it unnecessary because they don’t understand their own heart. In this passage Christ is talking to children of God, to Christians and he says, “if you being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more….” You see, we as children of God, have to wrestle and battle with our sinful nature all the time, with the world and with the evil powers. We are not exempt from temptation and accusations and guilty consciences and the power of sin. No, you and I, as children of God feel it day by day. It doesn’t go away.

You and I, if we want to follow Jesus, and walk in righteousnes will have many battles to fight. As John Piper the theologian said, “You don’t know what life is for, until you know that life is war.” The devil doesn’t rest, and your sinful nature doesn’t give you a reprieve. You and I have a battle to fight, a race to run and obstacles to overcome.

You won’t take hold of these promises unless you feel your desperate need for help, strength, assistance and the Holy Spirit’s presence. That is where we all start. You and I need to pray. The saints of old realized they needed to spend time alone with God. David, Daniel, Moses, Anna, Abraham, Jacob, Paul, even Jesus when he was on earth. And how is it that we don’t feel that contstant need?

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where shall my help come from? From the television? From Facebook? From YouTube? From the government?

No, no, no! My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

We need his presence in our lives to cope with temptation

We need his wisdom to make right and wise decisions everyday

We need his protection to be safe from the evil one. 

We need his guidance to lead us in the way forward

We need his mercy to forgive us our sin

We need Jesus’ blood to cleanse us from all our sins.

And we need so much more. We need to turn to the Lord in prayer frequently.

Friend, do you see your own need, do yo see the need of the global church? Do you see the need of other Christians?

If you do, you will be more constant in prayer. You will seek his fellowship more often. This is the primary thing. Seeing our need for God! Over and over again.

Persevering prayer

Persevering prayer

Matthew: 7:7-11

7)““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

8)For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

9)Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10)Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

11)If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew‬

I know some people who call themselves Calvinists, do not really believe that we should be constantly praying about things. Some Calvinists believe that prayer is unnecessary, which is unfortunate and uncalvinistic, because even Calvin was a man who prayed a lot and the men who followed him e.x the Puritans. At BBC (Birchleigh Baptist Church) we hold to the 1689 Baptist Confession. Chapter 3 of the confession deals with the decrees of God. And for your information the decrees of God has nothing to do with people prophesying and decreeing that this or that will happen. We can decree that all sicknesses and the corona virus be destroyed, but that will not destroy it, because we as humans cannot decree anything. The decrees of God refer to God’s unchangeable decisions made in eternity past. It refers to God’s counsel and his purposes to accomplish all that He pleases. And because God is eternal and not bound by time, he has made these decisions or decrees in eternity past. And as the Bible makes clear in Acts 15:18, God’s works are known to Him from eternity. Everything that happens, happens because God wills it. That doesn’t mean He is the author of sin, because God is not actively creating evil in people’s hearts, we are still free moral agents and are responsible for our actions. But all our sins, God, as it were, controls, and arranges to accomplish his purposes and his decrees. If God was not in absolute control of all things that happen He would not be sovereign.

But you may say to me, if this is true, prayer is not needed! if you say that God has predestined, some to salvation and not all, why pray for the salvation of the lost? Why pray at all if God has decreed whatsoever will come to pass? He has already decided!

Although God is Sovereign, and decrees all things that whatever comes to pass, and the salvation of the elect, He accomplishes his purposes in judgment and salvation, in conversion, in sanctification and many acts of providence and provision and protecting his people, THROUGH the means of prayer and the word, the gospel ministry.

This is the point we see over and over in the Bible. God accomplishes his purposes through secondary causes, through people, acting, and witnessing and working and praying and preaching. God accomplishes his purposes through different agents, through the church, but also through unbelievers and the laws of nature and creation. If this is true, we see how important prayer is! And specifically persevering prayer.

The whole point of the passage in Matthew 7:7-11 is this: prayer must be continuous, and he who prays must persevere. We see this fact, over and over in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Literally, Christ says in verse 8, everyone asking, receives, and he who is seeking finds, and he who is knocking the door will be opened. The words in Greek for ask, seek and knock is in the participle tense, and should be translated in English in the present continuous tense. These verbs, are also in the active voice, meaning this should be a continuous activity in a person’s life. We see this command over in over in Scripture.

Take Luke 18:1-8. ““And Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart”

Take Romans 12:12 “be constant in prayer”

Take 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing

Take Collosians 4:2 “continuing steadfastly in prayer..”

Take Ephesians 6:18 “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.

Our passage says the same thing in different words, Jesus said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.”

The cure of anxiety (Part 8)

Seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be added unto you

❖ Seek His righteousnes 

 

➢ Remind yourself of being clothed with it

➢ Seek to Express it: right attitudes, right actions 

➢ Pursue it socially, culturally, economically in the world 

 

➢ Remind yourself of being clothed with it

 

We gain entrance into the kingdom of God, by being clothed by a righteousnes not our own, but by Christ’s righteousness. By faith in Christ, our sins are imputed, transferred to Him, and His righteousnes are imputed, transferred to us, and by that righteousnes you are justified and put in the right relationship with Christ forever. To seek His righteousness means firstly to remind ourselves constantly of this reality. We are accepted by God, by grace, by Christ’s death and righteousness. 

 

➢ Seek to Express it: right attitudes, right actions 

 

Secondly, to seek his righteousnes means to seek ways of expressing right ideas, right thoughts, right words, and right attitudes, like kindness, generosity, love, peace, joy, patience etc. We seek to express right attitudes and we seek to do what is right, like paying taxes when we need to, being honest in business, seeking kindness towards strangers, seeking to do what is right in every circumstance, helping the poor, because righteousness glorifies Christ. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of righteousnes.

 

➢ Pursue it socially, culturally, economically in the world

 

And lastly, seek God’s righteousnes in the hard places, where you may be insulted, mistreated, cursed and persecuted, like with your friends, where you do business and people seek bribes, when you are in a family gathering and they want you to offer sacrifices to the dead, or when people want to worship their appetites like sexual pleasure or drunkenness. That is the place where we need to seek first his righteousness. And God will provide.

 

Therefore, the cure for anxiety is to 

 

Look at the birds of the air, look at God’s providential care, take notice or his works,

 

Consider the lilies of the field, take notice of the way in which he cares for creation and all life on earth

 

Know that God knows your needs and cares for you

 

Believe in the promises of his word that He will provide

 

Seek first his kingdom and righteousnes. Amen

 

Be focused on God, his Kingdom, his nature, His righteousnes, his care, his sovereignty. Amen

The cure of anxiety (Part 7)

The cure of anxiety part 7

• Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness 

 

Verse 33 begins with a “but” in other words, don’t be anxious, but…

33). “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

Seek first. 

 

Two conditions are given for you to inherit the promise. Seek first. That means to make it your focus in life, your primary objective, your mission in life, your goal, your first priority when you wake up, to seek

 

To seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What does it mean? 

 

❖ The kingdom of God

 

What is the kingdom of God? 

 

The Bible says nobody can see or enter the kingdom of God, unless they are born again (John 3:3-5). In other words, the kingdom of God is first of all, a spiritual place, a spiritual place whereby God made you alive to a spiritual reality. The reality of God and his rule. To enter the kingdom of God, means you come under the reign and rule of God as your Father and that happens when the Holy Spirit makes you alive unto God and grants you faith in Jesus Christ and repentance towards God. Unless you are converted and changed and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3). The kingdom of God is the spiritual place or state of being  where your sins are forgiven, where God drives away the demons, where the power of Satan is broken and the Holy Spirit reigns. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The kingdom of God is everlasting. So when the text says, seek first, it assumes you are in it already, you are regenerated and are filled with the Spirit. To seek it further in your life, means, I believe, three things:

 

➢ Seek your continual submission to it

➢ Seek the expression of it

➢ Seek the expansion of it

 

➢ Seek your continual submission to it

 

Seek to bring every area of your life, your thought life, your affections, your loves, your hates, your dreams, your ambitions, your future, your will, your body, your family, your hobbies, your dreams, your money, your possessions, under the control of Christ. Seek to deny and crucify your sinful desires and wishes and plans continually, and seek to submit the whole spectrum of life unto God. That is what it means to seek the kingdom of God. 

 

➢ Seek the expression of it

 

This point relates to the first. The kingdom of God is within you, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit testifies of this fact. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit when you are a child of God, and the Holy Spirit produces fruit, or we can say expressions, it wants to express or exhibit the nature of God through you by your submission to the King. How? By being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, being meek, pursuing righteousness, showing mercy to others, loving purity and peacableness, 

 

➢ Seek the expansion of it

 

And thirdly seeking his kingdom first means you desire the expansion of it, by submitting to it, expressing it and using means like preaching, praying, distribution of truth, standing for what is right and good on a familial, social, cultural and global level. You seek for opportunities to make the King known, through the gospel and by loving people.

The cure of anxiety (Part 6)

The cure of anxiety part 6

• Believe that if you do seek first God’s kingdom He will provide

 

33)But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 

 

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. 

 

Here is a promise attached. When we first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be added. 

 

Promises in the Bible are very important. And they are given to believe in. There is nothing so powerful as a promise of God. Our salvation rests on the promises of God. We are made partakers of the divine nature by the promises of God. By believing in the promises of God!! (2 Peter 1:3,4)

 

God cannot lie. God hasn’t lied. God doesn’t lie. God will not lie. He has promised that He will provide in the needs of His children and He will! This is the rock you must stand on. It is unshakable. God’s word is true and indestructible. 

 

Believe in it. God is a good God. God is a faithful God. God is a God of truth and his promises will come to pass over and over in your life, child of God. Believe in it. Put this promise in your heart. God will provide in your needs, in your necessities, for your future when you seek him first. 

 

You see there is a condition. But seek first….

 

God must be first in your life. You must put him first. Not your family, not your job, not your hobbies, not entertainment. God must be first. When God is first in your life, God will provide in your needs. 

 

“No good thing will God withhold from them who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11) “My God will supply in all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

 

Believe! BELIEVE, that God will stay true to his word and promises!