Tag Archives: Sermon On The Mount

Where is Your House Built

Matthew 7:24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

This is probably one of the most familiar little stories of Jesus. We sang it as a children’s song when we were young and I would guess all of us believe we know the meaning of this verse. We tell people we have built our house upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ and the wind and waves of life cannot topple our house. We think of Him as our great foundation, holding us up by His word and His promises. What more can I possible say about this verse to give it deeper meaning?

Jesus was a great orator. We don’t often think of Him like that. We think of His healing and miracles, about His parables and stories, and about the price He paid for us. We think about His birth, His baptism and His death and resurrection. We think about blind eyes being open, the dead rising up, lepers healed and demons cast out. But we don’t give much thought to what a great speaker He was.

I have seen many great speakers in my life. Zig Ziglar, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Billy Graham and many others have awed crowds with their use of the right words to motivate others and get their message across. I have been in Toastmasters for over 30 years and have won many a speech contest, once taking the Iowa Table Topics contest 1st place trophy. There are elements that make a speech great, and the conclusion is the most important.

The conclusion must make an appeal for action to the listener based upon everything else the speaker has said. It should sum up in a few short sentences what the speaker is trying to get the audience to understand and should leave them with a desire to do what the speaker is asking them to do. We’ve all seen preachers who “close” their sermons three or four times before it is finally over. This is not great speaking, but it can be effective. Here, Jesus closes once.

This little analogy is very powerful and very specific. It is about doing what Christ has asked us to do in the previous three chapters. It is about following through with all that He has said, not just part of it. Jesus does not want us to flounder and fall into the waves that life will toss at us. He wants us to have that solid foundation that is based on His word. This is a foundation that the world is trying to do away with. The world does not want to have a standard of morality. The world does not want anyone to tell them what is right and wrong.

Jesus says the choice is simple. You either follow the words He has said and stay on a solid foundation or you don’t do what he says and you fall. Real simple, real precise. The Sermon on the Mount is a revealing of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and we best heed His words and do His words if we want to be a part of that kingdom for all time. What Jesus reveals to us is God’s will for our lives. This is how God desires that we should live here on this earth. This is how we should treat one another – not just our brother, but everyone. This is the standard, this is the way. In our last lesson we went through all the various things Christ taught us in Chapter 5. Let’s move on now and review Chapters 6 & 7.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to keep our giving to ourselves and not let others know what we are doing. We shouldn’t even let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. He says our prayer lives should be private, not public. They should be personal, not vain repetitions.. He teaches us a pattern of prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, then He tells us we should forgive or our father in heaven will not forgive us. That should be enough to get your attention! Jesus next addresses fasting, telling us we should not let others know we are fasting by our appearance, but make sure we look good even though we are fasting. It’s none of their business! He tells us that the most important treasure we can store up is that which we have in heaven not on this earth. What a contrary statement to the worlds thinking this is! He explains how we must be singularly focused on the Light and not darkness, and that we can only serve one master. Then He explains how important it is to trust God for the daily necessities and focus our attention first on the Kingdom of heaven. We should not worry what tomorrow will bring. That’s a lot to take in from one speech and we still have another chapter to go!

In Matthew 7 He starts out by telling us not to judge others. We have enough troubles of our own to figure out. We should take care of our own faults before trying to fix someone else’s. Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking if you want an answer to pray is Jesus next point. We are told to do good things for each other, and He gives us the Golden Rule. He tells us the narrow gate leads to life. This narrow gate is at the end of a path that is straight and follows His words. He also says the broad gate has many people going to it because they do not want to follow His Word and stay on the straight path. We then are warned of false prophets and are told we will know them by what they produce. They are very deceptive, and we must be diligent. We must do the will of the Father or Christ will say He never knew us on that day when He returns. The will of the Father is all in this Sermon.

The conclusion is that we have a choice. We can choose to live out all the things that Christ taught us in Matthew 5-7 or we can choose to just do what we want to do and maybe follow some things but not others. We can strive to please the Father or we can aim to please ourselves. This is our choice. Jesus tells us that if we will follow His Word then we shall have a solid foundation to stand on. Our lives will be built on the rock, and no storm will be able to knock us down. This is a promise that there will be storms, and what we do with Jesus’s words will determine how well we will survive those storms.

Or we can choose to just go our own way and follow what we choose to follow. If we make that choice, our house is built on sand, which shifts whenever the tide comes in. There is no solidity to it. There is no sure foundation, but it changes all the time., When the storms come in, the sand can wash away, leaving us trying to stand up with little or no foundation. I do not want to ever be in that place. I want to be where I can firmly stand.

Please never take this story away from the previous three chapters and all that Jesus tells us we should be doing. God desires us to be so strong in the storm that our light will shine for all to see. He wants us to be a lighthouse to a lost and dying world because they are floundering in the storms with no foundation. They have chosen their own way and are falling farther down all the time. They need us to reach out and grab them by the hand and pull them back up on the firm foundation.

Will you be there for them, standing on the Rock?

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Not Everyone

Matthew 7:21-23

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Of all the things Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, this is probably the most controversial and the most ignored. I will admit that for years I thought I was headed for heaven because I was working hard in the church, leading worship, doing evangelistic work, writing songs and choruses and being faithful to my local church. I prophesied on occasion, prayed for the sick and they were healed and did all kinds of wonderful works. Surely I was headed for heaven!

These words of Jesus “Not every one” should be taken literally. There are many who will come to Him at the judgment seat thinking they have done all these things for Him and in His name, only to be disappointed and asked to leave. Jesus will say He never even knew them. Those words will surprise many in that day. All these people worked hard in the church and thought they were all set. They had paid their dues. They had punched their ticket. They loved God and worked for Him all their lives. Why would Jesus say He never knew them?

Let’s look back quickly and see what He has taught us so far in this amazing sermon. First are the beatitudes, where He says we should be poor in spirit, we should mourn, we should be hungry for righteousness, we should be meek, we should be merciful and pure in heart. We are to be peacemakers and we should rejoice if we are persecuted for His name. Many of us can’t get past these first twelve verses in following what Jesus says is the Fathers will. This whole sermon tells us what the will of the Father is. This whole message, laid out methodically and with purpose, shows us the narrow road that brings us into God’s will.

Next, we are to be salt and light to a lost and dying world. We are to shine our light so God will be glorified, not us. Our righteousness should be better than the religious leaders. We should not be putting them on any type of pedestal and thinking we do not have to live up to that same standard. We must watch our anger and not call someone a fool. We must take the initiative to settle our differences swiftly. We must not lust after the opposite sex at all. We must not allow offenses to enter our body at any time. We should not divorce, for God instated marriage to be a life-long commitment. We should not make an oath that we will not fulfill, but just say yes or no when someone asks us something. We should go the extra mile and lend the extra clothes. We should bless those who persecute us and love our enemies. We should be perfect in these things and in God’s sight. This is all in Chapter 5.

I am not going to review all of Chapters 6 and 7 at this time, but if you want to see what Jesus was leading up to here, you should go back and read it for yourself. The Sermon on the Mount is one long message about what the will of God is. Jesus does not leave us wondering what it is. He does not tell us that we must do the Father’s will and then not explain what that means. I hear people going around all the time who say “I just don’t know what God’s will is for my life.” Here it is, in black and white. This is the pattern for everyone. If we don’t get this right, Jesus will say He never knew us.

Do I have it all figured out? No, I don’t. Everyday new truths explode in on me, helping me get through this life day by day/ Little by little He reveals my imperfections and starts to work on them. One by one, He shows me the areas of my life that still need to be molded and shaped into His image. Doing the Father’s will is also allowing Him unlimited access to my life, to mold and transform me into His image. I have a choice to make and so do you. Will I listen to the Holy Spirit when He speaks into an area of my life? Will I allow the Word to become a sword that will pierce me through and separate my desires and wants from the desire I have for Godly things? Will I let change happen in my life when He speaks to me to change?

This is a lifelong process. Salvation does not happen in a day. We are saved through grace by faith on the day we accept Christ as our Savior. On that day, we are bound for heaven. At that moment the transformation is real. From that moment on, it is up to us to work out that salvation into every nook and cranny of our lives. If we came to Jesus as a drunkard, God will appoint a time for that to be gone. If we come as a drug addict, He will work on that in His time. If we came as a prostitute, as the woman taken in adultery did, God tells us to go and sin no more once we are forgiven. We can no longer walk in sin.

Walking in the will of God is hot hard, but it is demanding. Jesus says here that if we are not doing our all to live our lives according to the Father’s will, He will say He never knew us. That should cause us to look hard at our lives right away. It should cause us to want to do everything we can to bring our lives in line with what we have been taught in the scriptures. If we are not doing that, we will miss the kingdom of heaven. I for one do not want to miss the mark! How about you?

The Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13-14

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It saddens me to see what is going on in the church as a whole these days, and I think it saddens God as well. When the church was established, a standard was set by our Lord Jesus Christ that we live above the world, yet in the world. That we should turn our backs from the worlds ways and follow Him, even if it means turning away from our family and friends (Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:38). We are to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to put away the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life because they are not of God (1 John 2:16).

Let’s start with one of the most glaring of the attacks against the church in our times: the LBGTQ (hope I didn’t miss a letter) community. Churches are folding left and right to this group of people. This community is bent on having to be accepted as they are, no questions asked, in every capacity the church has to offer. Ordained, youth leaders, deacons, marriage counselors – every area. They are determined to make same sex marriage be OK and demand it be performed by anyone they might decide to ask. They are determined to make Christians go against their moral foundation to serve them, even if they can get the service easily somewhere else. It is eroding the very fabric of our society.

The bible is clear on what the narrow gate is here. The narrow gate is traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The narrow gate is cleaving to one another for a lifetime. The narrow gate is to love one another through good times and bad, sickness and health, richer or poorer, until death do we part. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate is just give up because we don’t love each other anymore. The wide gate is marry anyone you like, no matter what sex they are. The wide gate is fool around and swing with as many as you want. The wide gate is the world and it leads to destruction. It destroys lives of the parents, lives of the children and the fabric of our society. More and more you see kids with two sets of parents. More and more you see children to apart by a world that has no sound foundation. The church has as many divorces as the world outside. Why? This should not be so – not by a long shot. The wide gate is everywhere. The wide gate leads to destruction

Then there is the acceptance of these individuals in the LBGTQ community. Many denominations have decided they are due every right and privilege that anyone else has. The Methodist church is riddled with this philosophy, and their churches are falling left and right. Lawsuits are brought against churches, schools and businesses who don’t fall to their demands, and the3y are being won. Our legal system has even said they are OK.

The narrow gate is that God created make and female (Gen 1:27). There are no more than two sexes, and the difference can be seen anatomically. God did that so there would be no doubt which was which. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate is be whoever you want to be and we will make sure this world will give you all it’s benefits. The wide gate is to not let parents talk to their children about being male and female as they were born, but to let them go the way they want to and just grin and bear. The wide gate is to turn aside and do nothing, say nothing and hear nothing as we slowly drift from the standard that our society has believed for it’s entire existence. The wide gate leads to destruction.

Then there is the question of creationism vs evolution. Evolution was theorized in in 1859 in Charles Darwin’s Book “The Origin of the Species.” The scientific community latched onto this idea because it could explain God out of the picture – they loved it. Evolution says that man evolved over millions years from protozoa in the ocean. He was the first to speculate the age of the earth was that long. In the 1927 the Big Bang Theory stated that the universe came out of one big simultaneous event, something Augustine said back in the 4th century. Augustine said it was God. Now the scientific community had to take one more stab at God. Taking Genesis out of the picture by saying it is a false account also takes God out of the picture of being in charge. Creation says the earth is 13.7 million years old

The narrow gate says God created the Heaven’s and the Earth (Gen 1:1) out of nothing, in essence a Big Bag. The narrow gate says the earth is 6,000 years old as the Bible says. The narrow gate says man was created individual, as were the animals and the plants. The narrow gate says that God did it all in six days. The narrow gate says we have dominion over all the earth. The narrow gate says the Light came before the Sun and the Moon. The Light is Jesus and He was here from the beginning. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate says we are just descended from apes. The wide gate says we are no better than the plants and animals, and that we should make sure they are protected above all else. The wide gate says we are not valuable. The wide gate says that man is capable of destroying what God created. The wide gate says that Genesis just cannot be taken as truth, we must believe man’s wisdom and not God’s The wide gate deems man’s wisdom to be higher than God’s in all things. The wide gate leads to destruction.

The last I will mention is morality. What is moral? What is just? What is right and what is wrong? Answers to these questions are challenged everyday by man. They are challenged everyday by a society that moves farther and farther away from any standard of living. They are deteriorating at a rapid rate around the world.

The narrow gate says that God has a standard. That standard is the Ten Commandments. Then there is the Golden Rule on top of that. If we could love by these two rules, all other rules would be unnecessary. The narrow gate says God’s ways are moral and right. The narrow gate says God executes judgment. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate says that anything goes. The wide gate says that we do not have to be oral by any standard that already exists. We can make the standard as we go, The wide gate says whatever you think is right and Ok is right for you. The wide gate has no foundation in any kind of truth. The narrow gate leads to destruction

These are just a few things we have to consider. There are many more. What it boils down to is whether we believe the Word of God or not. Today, man is exalting his wisdom above Gods wisdom. In our schools our children are taught man’s wisdom, not God’s. It is sad and it is so wrong. As we trust more and more in man’s wisdom in our schools and our churches, more and more people will head to the wide gate.

Which gate are you headed toward? Are you walking in the wisdom of this world You are headed to the wide gate. Are you accepting this worlds idea of moral behavior? You are walking toward the wide gate. Are you discounting the truths of the Bible for what man says happened all those years ago? You are walking toward the wide gate.
Are you trusting in the Lord and His Word for the wisdom you walk in? You are walking toward the narrow gate. Are you walking in the morality God set forth in His word? You are walking toward the narrow gate. Are you a believer in the Genesis account and all the truths delivered there? You are walking toward the narrow gate.

And, last but most important. Are you a born again, Spirit filled, bible reading, praying and worshiping Christian, walking in the word and doing everything you can to obey it’s precepts? Have you accepted the atoning blood of Christ as your sacrifice for sin? Have you asked God to forgive your sins and have you repented and left them behind you? Are you a witness to His mercy and grace with all you come in contact with? Are you eagerly awaiting His return, knowing He could come any moment? You are walking toward the narrow gate!

The wide gate leads to destruction. The narrow gate leads to life.

How Do You Want to be Treated?

Matthew 7:12

7 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this fulfills the law and the prophets

We all know it. The “Golden Rule” it is called. It is known by cultures around the world, by Christian and non-Christian, by rich and poor, by big and small, by any race, sex or creed. This rule has been heard over and over again. Why is it that we have so much trouble understanding it?

Well, I can think of several reasons which I will share in this post. I’ll bet you can some up with a few more on your own. As I look at my own life and what I have witnessed and done myself, I can see so many ways that I fall flat on my face when it comes to this simple statement. It’s not on purpose, mind you. It’s a slip of the mental capacities, or it’s human nature, to just do what is best for me, not necessarily what is best for the other. I challenge you to see if you fit any of these patterns I am going to share.

The first is the “me first” or privileged society we live in today. It’s what I want ahead of all else. It’s my morality that matters. It’s my needs that trump yours. I must do what I have set out to do, and I’m not concerned whether you can fit into my plans or not. Have you heard that? I just heard it yesterday from one of my daughters! I hear it a lot. Once we have set course in a certain direction, we are not going to turn back and try and help someone else. This rule says to do what you would want someone to do for you, not what you want to do for them, or not for them.

We have one of our granddaughters living with us right now. Her cousins came down for Christmas this weekend. They spent the first night with us and had a blast. The last night they were staying in another city about 40 miles away so they could swim and head home in the morning. Our granddaughter wanted to go up swimming with them and needed a ride home if she did because I am not able to drive right now and my wife was working at a restaurant that night. But they had made their plans ahead and were not willing to drive her home. My lovely wife, who will do anything for her grandkids, drove up after work and picked her up. I rode with her and as always was amazed with her grace.

Would my daughter have liked us to bring her daughter home if a similar situation arose? We would have gladly done it. We would have figured out a way or altered our plans slightly to make it happen. But we would have done it, not because we would want the same, but because it is the right thing to do. Help someone else out if they ask, even if I have to go out of my way. Isn’t that what this rule says?

In our world today, we see this often. People will not go out of their way to help someone else out. They are stuck in their own little routines and heaven forbid someone should ask them to go out of their way to help. They forget that they might need that favor returned someday. When that day comes, they get mad because the other person won’t do what they would not do earlier.

The next thing is a simple thing called getting even. Well, they did this to me, so I’m going to do it right back! They gossiped about me, so I’m telling about them! They didn’t help me out at work, so I won’t help them! They didn’t wave at me so I’m going to snub my nose at them. How many times have we heard this, or been guilty of this? This is actually the exact opposite of the Golden Rule. It is saying they did it to me, so I’m going to do it to them because I did not like it! How backwards can it get? Yet our society seems to run on this sentiment.

This was me just the other day. I confess – I am guilty. I had ordered some things from a local gal who does a masterful job at couponing. She sells stuff out of her home that she has bought for pennies on the dollar and she is well below store prices. She was out of town when I sent in my order and hadn’t seen it, so I sent it again. She said she would get back with a price so I could write a check. She did not, so I prompted her. I got the price and asked her when I could come pick them up or could she deliver them. No response, for days. I asked again, three weeks after the order was placed, I still did not have the goods so I bought them at a local store.

My wife works with this gal at night, and she came home after I had bought them and said the gal was going to bring some stuff over because she felt bad. I told her that I had already bought it and didn’t need it. Then I said I would not order from her again. Yes, this is poor customer service, and in the eyes of the world, I would be justified in not purchasing from her again. But is this right? Is this the way I would want to be treated, or am I working the reverse of the rule?

According to this verse, the right thing to do is forgive her and give her another chance. I would want another chance if I messed up this bad! I have been in sales for over 30 years and know what it is to make mistakes and be given another chance. To be honest, it’s rare. But it’s the right thing to do. Remember our lesson on forgiveness? That applies so strongly in this verse. I would want to be forgiven my negligence. I should certainly forgive hers.

Then there is revenge. Christians should never take revenge into their own hands, but so often we want it so badly that we forget God told us vengeance was His, He would repay (Deuteronomy 32:3). We forget that God says to not avenge ourselves but leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:19). We want an immediate judgment! We want that matter settled now, and we will do it ourselves. After all, we are the ones who were wronged!

I can’t say I can give a good example of this one right off the top of my head, but you can all relate, I am sure. Someone does something bad to us, so we repay by doing something bad back. Or someone says something hurtful and we fire right back. My wife and I used to get into some of those types of arguments and no one ever wins. One party or the other gets deeply hurt and in our case it was always my wife. I can’t tell you how many times I fired back some off the cuff remark that I did not intend to say because she stirred my pot a bit. I’ve become a lot better at avoiding this, but it still creeps up every so often. I just don’t want to hurt her with my words anymore, so I am so careful. Revenge is never a good thing when we take it into our own hands. My wife always says “They will reap what they sow” and this is so true!

The last thing that I will mention is pride, I know I mention this a lot, but it is the major fault that keeps us going against the principles of God. Pride will want to make us stay on top, stay ahead, get even, get revenge and get our way. Pride will keep us from yielding to someone else’s need or to acknowledge someone made a mistake. Pride will keep us from forgiving someone and give them another chance. Pride needs to go and humility needs to rule and reign in our lives.

One last thought on this verse. Have you ever thought about the fact that you can take this verse and turn it a little around to show how powerful it really is? Do you realize that when you are gossiping about your neighbor, you are saying in effect it is alright if they gossip about you, according to this rule? After all, whatever I want done for me, I do for them, right? If I don’t give them a ride when they need one, I am telling them they don’t need to give me a ride when I need one, right? If I don’t help them, I don’t expect they should help me! What we do for or to others is what we want done for or to us is another way of looking at this verse.

Do you want others to take revenge on you? Take revenge on them! Do you want others to not help you out? Don’t help them out! Do you want others to put you down behind your back? Put them down behind their back! Do you want others to steal your joy? Steal their joy! Do you want others to be angry with you? Be angry with them!

Or, Do you want others to forgive you? Forgive them! Do you want others to be at peace with you? Be at peace with them! Do you want others to speak gently to you? Speak gently to them! Do you want others to help you? Help them! Do you want others to love you? Love them! Love them even if they don’t love you back. Forgive them even if they don’t forgive you back. Be at peace with them even if that peace is not returned.

Do to them as you want them to do to you. So simple, yet so profound!

Give Good Gifts

Matthew 7:9-11

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye 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?

Life is full of good things and bad. We all seem to accumulate plenty of both throughout our time on this earth. There are good possessions and bad possessions. There are good habits and bad. There are good emotions and bad. Good actions and bad. If I would ask you to make a list of the good things in your life alongside a list of the bad, many would come up with more good than bad because we don’t want to admit our bad qualities and we try to magnify our good. But we all have both.

These verses focus on the good possessions we might accumulate as far as the word “gifts” is used. But the much broader context in is anything we give our brother, not just material things. How often has someone come to you seeking sympathy and you give them a cold shoulder. Or they come to you with complaints and you give them contemp. Have you ever had a friend come to confide in you with someone personal and you just happened to let it slip out to someone else? Have you ever shared a private prayer request only to use it as gossip?

Certainly if someone came to you asking for a cup of sugar you would lend it if you had it. If they came and asked for a couple slices of bread, you would willingly give it. Each one of us has an inbuilt sense to help others if we can when it comes to material things. We will share anything we can spare to help someone else. But often that only goes as far as our material things. When it comes to the greater gifts in life, we often hesitate to help because that makes us vulnerable. And our pride keeps us from being vulnerable.

Jesus says the Father will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask. This gift brings with it fruit. This fruit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

These are the most precious things we have. All the gold, rubies and emeralds on earth do not stack up. To a hungry soul even these would help to fill the void. We all have need of these fruit at certain times in our lives. How much do we give these gifts to those that are in need of them? The Lord says here that he will supply them to us just by hearing us ask. Will we do the same for others

If someone comes to you seeking love from you than do you keep involved in your own interest or do you put the other person’s interests above your own (Phil 2:4)? If someone is overtaken in a fault do we start to chastise them and tell everyone else or do we try to restore them (Gal 6:1)? Do we just mind our own business when someone else is burdened or do we take up our brothers burden (Gal 6:2)? These are all questions that call on our love, or lack of it, to take action.
If someone is in sorrow, do you just turn away because you don’t know what to do, or do you weep with those that weep (Rom 12:15)? Do we go to the one who has sorrow, knowing that perhaps even our joy will not be enough to help them, but just to be with them, knowing that life is short and any help is good (Eccl 7:2)?

If someone’s life is in turmoil, do we become the peacemaker who can bring a sense of reality back to them (Matt 5:9)? Do we make every effort to be at peace with those around us (Rom 14:19)?

These same types of questions can be asked for each of these fruit. This is the key to being fruitful in our lives. These seeds are planted in us and we are to take them and spread them wherever we go. As always, some of our seed will fall on hard ground, some will fall on stony ground and some will fall among thorns. But much will fall on good ground, and will grow and bring twenty, fifty or one hundred fold.

So when someone comes to you, whatever they are asking, are you ready to give of yourself whatever you can? Our Lord gave His all for you. Will you give your all for Him? You are the very best gift you can give!

The A.S.K. Principle

Matthew 7:7-8

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Warning: This post is bound to be a commercial for the book by the same name. Since I wrote that book, I guess it’s all right if I pull a few things from it to write this post. After all, the principle is derived from these very verses.

There are some verses that we have all heard and have all thought we understood them all our lives. These verses are probably on that list. I looked in 25 different translations of the Bible, and they all use the same three verbs – ask, seek, knock. 30 years ago I was studying in Matthew and took notice of the fact that the acronym formed by these three words is ASK. I studied out each word carefully and came up with the original notes of a Bible study I called “The A.S.K. Principle.” Jesus was a master at using as few words as possible to get His pint across, and He always chose His words very carefully. It is no fluke that He chose these three words in this order. Asking is the key to answered prayer. Plain and simple.

Most likely you are saying to yourself “Well Duh.” Everyone knows that! I would say that is true, but does everyone know exactly what it means to ask, seek and knock? Do each of you follow out what scripture says about each one of these words? The essence of answered prayer is found by looking at each of these words carefully and seeing what the scripture reveals. That is what my book does. But I am not going to go through all 200 pages in this post. This will be the Cliff’s Notes version.

The first step is to ask. The word ask in the Greek is actually continue asking. It is not asking once and receiving an answer although this does happen occasionally. I hear way to many preachers preaching that if we have faith, we will only have to ask once and I vehemently disagree. They use scriptures like John 14:14 (If you ask anything in my name I will do it), Matthew 18:19 (If any two agree it shall be done), Mark 11:23 (if you tell this mountain to move and have faith it will be done) and Luke 17:6 (If you have faith like a mustard seed you can move a mountain). Yes, Jesus said all of these things, and He always spoke the truth. Many take this to mean when we ask, God should do it right away.

But Jesus also said If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done (John 15:7). In John 14:14, which we shared in the previous paragraph,. Jesus says we must ask in His name. Asking in His name means according to His word. In John 15:16 Jesus says that when our fruit remains the Father will answer our prayers. James said we often ask to heap things on our own lusts and this causes our prayers not to be answered. John said If we ask anything according to His will it shall be done (1 John 5:14).

The body of scripture needs to be taken together if we want to see our asking be more effective. Will God instantly bless prayer? Of course He will, if it is His will to do so. We often get to the point that we think God should fit into our timetable and do what we want. It does not work that way. He is in control, and He can do anything He wants. We can come to Him with our request and He will decide which ones to answer now and which ones to answer later. He will decide exactly how He will answer and it may not be what we expect. No matter what, we should honor Him and glorify His name.

Seeking is next. Once again, we do not seek once but continually. There are many ways we can seek the Lord. It is a necessary step to bring about answered prayer. We seek God by searching through His word. Many times the answer to our prayer is in His word already. If we are not familiar with scripture, we will not know that our answer has already been given. Seeking can also be done when we are praying or praising. Both of these are crying out to God and looking for His mercy and grace. We can seek God through meditation. This type of meditation is not thinking about His word or some song. It is just putting Him in His rightful place in our lives and trying to find His presence within us.

There are many verses that tells us to seek the Lord. They all say He shall be found if we seek Him. Do you find that true? When you take time to seek Him, is He always right there with you? The key to finding God when you are seeking Him is humility. If we come to Him boldly, we may not find Him. Now you will probably quote Hebrews 4:12 to me now. It says Come boldly before the throne. I have heard this verse used many times to justify demanding things of God. But the rest of the verse says we can come boldly if we seek mercy. When we do, we will find grace so that we might help others in there time of need. In other words, we don’t come boldly to Him to fulfil our lusts.

Hosea 10:12 says we must break up our fallow ground before we seek the Lord. Our hearts have many hard areas and they need to be broken in order to effectively seek the Lord. Once again, we see brokenness as a key to seeking the Lord. Zephaniah tells us to seek righteousness and meekness. Seek to do right and seek to be meek. Meek is a form of gentle nature which sees God in control, not me. In Matthew 6:33 we are told to seek the kingdom first. How many times do we come to God seeking things for ourselves instead of the kingdom? How any times have we gone about seeking Him in all the wrong ways/ If we want to find Him, let’s start seeking as the word tells us to.

The las step is knocking. The knocking is the waiting. Continue knocking, continue waiting. This is one of the largest keys too answered prayer. It is being patient and waiting on the Lord. It is allowing God to answer in His time, not ours. He promises to answer over and over in His word, yet we fold when we do not have the answer in five minutes. I can guarantee God will answer your prayer every time if you will just wait on Him, continue to ask and seek carefully.

In Matthew 26:38-44 Jesus tells the disciples to watch and pray. This watching is the same as waiting. He told them to do this for themselves, not for Him. He said they should watch so they would not fall into temptation. They did not do so well, and all of them left Him when the guards came. John is the only one mentioned to be near the cross. In James 1:2-4 we are told to count it joy when trials come. Why? Because when our faith is tried our patience is built. That patience perfects us. Therefore, in the midst of our trials, we use our faith to build patience – waiting!

Then of course there is Isaiah 40:31. They that wait upon the Lord – you can probably finish it on your own. Waiting will actually make us stronger. It will give us more stamina. It will help us soar above our problems like an eagle soars high in the sky. This will enable us to wait longer. We don’t like to wait. We are in a microwave generation that wants everything now. But if you are really serious about having a more effective prayer life, waiting is essential.

Asking, seeking and knocking. Sounds so easy doesn’t it? In reality, it is. Mastering prayer takes a lifetime of practice. The Lord’s direction in putting together “The A.S.K. Principle” has helped me see all the shortcomings of my prayer life. I am sure it will be a great addition to your library as well. If you would like your own copy, it is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in both paperback and E-book format. Or you can get a signed copy from me by emailing me at pete@theaskprinciple.com. Read it and pass the word if you find it helpful!

Pearls & Swine

Matthew 7:6

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The placement of this verse has always baffled me. Right after Jesus admonishes the people not to judge others and not to concentrate on the faults of others He proceeds to tell them that they need to be able to discern who the dogs and swine are. It’s really quite an extraordinary verse that I must admit I need an extra helping of the Holy Spirit to put this teaching into my own words.

While Jesus is not talking about actual food or pearls given to these animals. He uses “that which is holy” and “pearls” to signify the things of God. They are holy and precious as pearls or even gold for that matter. After describing the beauty of the Lords statutes in Psalm 19, David writes His laws are more to be desired than fine gold in verse 10. These precious things of the Lord are for His saints, for His children. They are not for the “dogs and swine”

The question has to be on our minds of who Jesus is talking about when He says dogs. The first thing that comes to my mind is that dogs are scavengers and will take anything you give them. They just sit at your feet and wait for something to drop. I have learned a lot about persistent prayer by watching my dog’s persistence and hopefulness that I will drop something when working in the kitchen. He will be thrilled with any small dropping that I might leave there on the floor. These were the words of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus told her that He was sent to the lost people of Israel and said the things of God are not for the dogs. When the Canaanite women told Him that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Masters table, Jesus looked at her and told her she had great faith, and He granted her request. We can learn a lot about the first part of this verse from that exchange.

Jesus called this woman a dog because she was not an Israelite. She was not a child of Abraham and those are the ones Jesus was sent for. The Canaanites were believers in many Gods (Wikipedia lists over 20 gods they worshiped). The one true God was a heresy to them and they scoffed at the idea. They lived in the land that Israel came in and conquered when they came out of Egypt. Therefor God told them to destroy all the Canaanites, but Israel did not do that. The Canaanites remained in the land and were a thorn in the flesh for Israel for centuries.

So this women was indeed a heretic. The description of her as a dog shows us that Jesus does not want to give the precious word of God to someone who is defiant against the gospel message. He does not want the Light that He is offering to go to some one who will merely scoff at it and rebuke Him for His beliefs. While it is true that He gave the word to the Pharisees who also mocked Him, they were of the tribe of Israel. They were the sons of Abraham.

The lesson for us about not giving holy things to the dogs is that we should not waste our time to bring the gospel to someone who is obviously hostile toward the words we will share. With this type of person we need to befriend them and let the light that is within us show through in our lifestyle. Giving them the gospel straight up will not do any good. Becoming a part of their life and allowing them to see the joy and peace that Christ puts in our lives may!

Then there is the part about casting our pearls before swine. Remember that pigs were unclean to Israelites. They stayed away from swine completely. They did not eat the meat (No bacon!!!), nor did they raise pigs. The looked on swine as the lowest of the low. Swine love mud holes. They love to wallow in them. In hot weather a pig will cover himself with mud to keep cool. They are dirty animals. If you would cast a pearl in front of a swine he would just push it down in the dirt and not understand it’s worth. That pearl, that seed is worthless to them.

In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price that a merchant will sell everything to get. Why? Because the kingdom, like the pearl, comes to us through agony and pain from the one providing it. The oyster that produces the pearl dies while forming that pearl. Jesus died to bring the kingdom of heaven to us. The gospel is of great value!

What Jesus is saying is that we should refrain from giving the precious gospel to someone we know will just yell and scream at us for the words we say, We should not give it to someone who is obviously dead set against it. Dropping seeds is one thing. Presenting the gospel is another. We must plant seeds in people’s lives, but the best seeds are sown by our lifestyle not our words. The seeds of our lifestyles cannot be ignored while the words of our lips will not only be ignored but we will be ridiculed for them. These pigs are beyond listening to what God has to say.

Again, some are called to take the gospel to people who will mock them, ridicule them, and kill them for the words they speak. These are selected vessels that God will lead in their witness. They have given all for the gospel and are willing to lose their lives if need be. If you are called to such a mission field, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. Your task is monumental.

We all have an obligation to share the gospel if we are followers of Christ. We are to sow seed wherever we go. Some will fall on hard ground, some on rocky ground, some on weed-filled ground and some on fertile ground that will produce fruit. Most of the time we do not know where a person is on the ground spectrum. We just share what God puts in our heart. But if we know that they fall under the category of dog or swine, we must tread carefully and listen to the words of Jesus in this verse. Save that seed for someone who will benefit from it, and try to befriend the dog or the swine. That’s the way we will win them!