Ask. Seek. Knock.
We’ve been in this series called “The Teaching of Jesus” for a while—we started back in February, and have been working our way through the Sermon on the Mount one chunk at a time. That makes it seem like we’re going really slow but the truth is, I could have spent most of this time on the first twelve verses alone. The first chunk of the Sermon on the Mount is what we call The Beatitudes. The blessings. Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn… These are the gateway to Jesus’ teaching—If you go to NewChurchTX.com, under the media tab, you can go to February 3rd’s message on The Beatitudes—if we don’t get the beatitudes right, we’re not gonna understand anything about Jesus. First, He blesses us. Saves us.
Then He said that we’re the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This is our calling. To be salt and light. To change the world. Everything we’ve talked about since then is about how we’re going to live out our calling as the people of God on the earth. The church.
Today we’re looking at a very practical little paragraph that puts a really sharp focus on how we’re supposed to approach being followers of Jesus. We all came here today with things on our mind, troubles going on in our life—we all got stuff going on that is weighing heavy on our hearts. We need things from God.
Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-12:
“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. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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!
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7–12
This is the Word of the Lord—Thanks be to God.
Prayer: Father in heaven, open Your Word to us today so that we can take comfort knowing that You want to give us what we need, and challenge us to be the kind of people who look to do the same for each other. In Christ’s name. AMEN
Ask. Seek. Knock. I had been working at a church in Katy for over three years before we started looking to buy a house here. We owned a house over in the Aldine area and wanted to sell it before buying another one—couldn’t afford two house payments. So, when our old house sold, we needed to find a new one as soon as possible. We put our stuff in storage and the four of us and our dog moved into a friend’s one room garage apartment. We were gonna buy the first house that accepted our offer. We prayed that God would make that happen quickly.
We looked at a bunch of houses, picked one and offered them their asking price—no negotiations, no wheeling and dealing—we just wanted to buy the house. They didn’t accept our offer. I was like, “But I’m offering what you listed it for!” No, they wanted to see what other offers came in. Back to the drawing board. Look at more houses.
We found another one and made an offer. Again, we offered the amount they said they wanted. They accepted our offer. Score! Until they changed their mind. The lady that was selling the house actually said since it sold so fast at the listing price she figured she had set the price too low and wanted to see if she could get more. By the way, that’s a big no no. Her real estate agent fired her and she wasn’t able to sell her house for over a year after that.
But we were off to look for another house. Our agent said that a house had just came on the market that morning—they hadn’t even had time to get it ready to be shown, but they agreed to let us drop by. We walked in and all the walls were painted all these weird colors, there was a strange mural painted in the living room, it smelled like an Indian restaurant inside. In other words, we loved it, it was love at first sight. Long story short, it’s the house we currently live in—it still has the crazy paint and weird mural. Usually smells like Indian food, too but that’s because I do most of the cooking.
We had prayed that God would get us into a house as soon as possible. We prayed for the first house to work out. We prayed for the second house to work out. The house God had for us wasn’t even for sale yet. You see where I’m going with this?
A few years later my mom started having some health problems and we decided to move her and my dad in with us. As luck would have it, our house was perfectly suited to make a handicap accessible apartment out of the garage. Imagine that. The way the garage has windows and it’s own private entrance but is also connected to the house—with a bathroom right next to it. The other houses we tried to buy wouldn’t have worked at all.
We asked God for a house. He wasn’t gonna give us one that didn’t work for what He knew we were gonna need—for what He was gonna have us do.
Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” We have not because we ask not. We don’t find because we’re not looking. The doors don’t open because we’re not knocking. All that is true. We have plenty of teaching in the Bible that tell us to be persistent and diligent in praying for the desires of our heart and the needs that we’re desperate to have met.
But this teaching isn’t really about what we do—it’s not really about how hard we should pray. This teaching is about how we’re living under the generous care of the Father. He knows what we really need. He still wants us to ask, but Jesus wants us to know that He’s more than willing to give us the things we need.
When we ask God for something, He’s going to give us what we need—might not be in our timing, might not even be exactly what we asked for—but it will be the right thing at the right time. If we seek the kingdom of God and His will—we’re gonna find it. Might not look like our preconceived ideas of what it was gonna look like—but we’ll find what He knows we’re really looking for. If we knock—the door will be opened. Opportunity will come. Again, might not be the opportunity we thought we wanted, but it’s gonna be the right opportunity. That’s what Jesus is promising us here.
He backs this up with the example of a child asking their dad for something to eat. “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a poisonous snake?”
Jesus wants us to understand that when we ask God for what we want and what we need, He’s not gonna be less generous and thoughtful than our parents.
“If you then, who are 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 7:11
This is one of the greatest things that Jesus ever said to us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” There are certain Bible verses that we’ve heard so many times that they kinda lose their impact—we have trouble hearing them fresh—I think this is one of them. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” God wants to give you what you want, what you need, what you’re looking for—He wants to give you a life with purpose, meaning, joy, hope—with every opportunity your heart desires. It’s hard to believe. It sounds too good to be true, but Jesus says it’s true. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
There’s another verse that we’ve all heard so many times we almost can’t even pay attention to it anymore. You can’t learn what you think you already know. Did you know that? Because if you did then you’re probably having a hard time learning that you can’t learn what you already know. :) The last verse of the text we’re looking at today is so well known that it has a special name. It’s called the “Golden Rule.” Verse 12:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
It might sound a little more familiar from the Gospel of Luke:
“Do unto others what you would like them to do unto you.”
Sometimes we wish Jesus would have said “Do unto others if they do unto you.” Then we wouldn’t have to do anything for anyone unless they did something for us first. But no, we’re supposed to take the initiative. We go first. We’re supposed to do for them what we think they would like us to do.
This is life changing. We’ll never get to the bottom of the implications of this verse. Luther said we should inscribe in on everything we own—all our possessions, all our tools, write it on our money. That way everything God has blessed us with would be a reminder of what He wants us to do with all this stuff. That God gave it to us so we can bless other people. So when they pray, God can send us to answer their prayers. We’re supposed to do for other people all the things we wish people would do for us.
Jesus says this isn’t just a good idea, it’s “the Law and the Prophets.” In other words—it’s the whole point of everything God has ever told us to do.
Kim and I grew up in central Illinois—if you wanted a summer job, the easiest jobs to get were working for the local farmers. One of the things we did was called “walking beans.” Basically walking through the soybean fields and cutting the weeds. It was pretty easy work but it was in the summer sun so it was hot. One day, Kim and me and my brother Jeff were a three man crew and we’re walking in the sun cutting the weeds—I started talking about how nice it would be to have some ice cream. I was being ridiculous. We were out in the middle of nowhere. Just miles and miles of fields as far as the eye can see. I saw a dusty spec of a cloud on the horizon—some kind of vehicle coming down the road—and I said, “wouldn’t it be amazing if that was an ice cream truck and they stopped and gave us some ice cream?” And they’d have to give it to us because none of us had any money. We kept walking. The dust cloud on the road kept getting closer. We were still a long way from the edge of the field where the road was. The vehicle stopped in front of us. We still couldn’t really see it. As we got closer—as you’ve probably guessed already—it really was an ice cream truck. But not the kind that plays music and sells ice cream to kids in the neighborhood—it was an ice cream delivery truck. The driver said, “you kids look hot, like you could use something to cool you off.” We said we didn’t have any money, he said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s my treat.” The miracle of the holy ice cream truck.
I think that’s a pretty good picture of how God delights to answer our prayers. The way that ice cream truck driver saw some kids who would probably appreciate what he alone could do for them. I think that’s “do unto others what you wish they would do unto you” looks like.
You have exactly what someone else needs. That’s why God gave it to you.
“Do unto others what you wish they would do unto you”—do you see how this is connected to the “ask, seek, knock” section? Most people miss it. We ask God for what we want and need—Jesus promises that He is even more willing to give it to us than we are to ask. Then He says, “and you need to be the same way to anyone who asks you for something.” In fact you need to just guess what they want and give it to them first—it’s probably how God’s gonna answer their prayer.
God wants to give us what we want—what we need. God wants to give you what you’re looking for. This should change everything for followers of Jesus. We should start looking at the world in a completely new light—there’s not gonna be any shortage of the things you need. You have an unlimited supply of everything God gives you. So you can walk around all day, everyday, ““Doing for others what you wish they would do for you.”
God’s Promises. God promises to give us what we need when we ask, seek, and knock—and He promises to do it in a way that will be good for us. He knows the plans He has for us and He’s not gonna give us rocks and snakes. He’s gonna give us what’s good for us, and it’s gonna be in His timing, not ours.
Jesus says to ask for the desires of our hearts—there’s nothing we can’t ask for. But He also wants us to understand that God is only going to give us what’s good for us because He loves us. Whatever we ask according to His will. But we don’t need to worry too much about that—some people say “you better be careful what you pray for.” Like God’s some kind of evil genie that’s looking for a way to trick you and make you miserable. No. God wants to give good gifts to His children—we can trust Him. Ask. Seek. Knock. Go for it—He’s not gonna give you something that’s bad for you. We’re living under the Father’s care.
He gave us Jesus. We didn’t ask Him to send His son into the world and die for us—we would have never thought of that. He gave us Jesus anyway, because that’s what we need. He sent Jesus into the world to die on a cross and raise from the dead so that you could have the hope and promise of being connected to God, living a life of purpose—the promise of life after death. Just like Jesus, death isn’t gonna be the end of you either. You will rise and you will get everything good because of Jesus. Because you’re no longer defined by your sin. You’re defined by your relationship with Jesus. That should give you hope. That should put a smile on your face. No matter what you’re going through at the moment. No matter what’s weighing heavy on you.
What did you carry in here with you this morning? What do you need? What do you want? Just ask. He’s only going to give you good things. He promises that you won’t be disappointed with where this is going. So, ask and seek. You will find what you heart longs for in its deepest longing. Ask and seek and knock. The door will be opened. Opportunities for things you would have never imagined before Jesus came into your life. You’ll have everything you need, God gives you His Word on that.
When you “Ask, it will be given to you; when you seek, you will find; when you knock, it will be opened to you.” So you can have what you need and so you can make a difference in the world—to be the salt and light you were meant to be. So you can “do unto others what you want them to do unto you.”
We’re building something here. We need you to ask God to give you everything you need so that you can do what He’s called you here to do. We need you to seek God and find out exactly what that is. We need you to knock and knock and knock until the door opens for the opportunity for you to do the thing that only you can do the way God has called you to do it. We need you to look around at your brothers and sisters in this place and do for them what you wish they would do for you—then carry that same mission into the rest of your life. Do for others what you wish they would do for you—At home. At work. At school.
You have been given a unique assignment in this world. Only you can do it. Jesus only gave you, among all the people on earth, the specific blessings, talents, and opportunities to do what He has only called you to do. That’s what it means to be blessed to be a blessing. I pray that you will have the strength and courage to do it in Jesus’ name for the glory of His kingdom and the blessing the world. AMEN