Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ask, Seek, Knock

As I mentioned last week, in Bible study we covered Matthew 7. Part of the "Ask, Seek, Knock" section says:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
One thing that was talked about that I had never really considered is the converse of that statement. If I had a son and he asked for bread, obviously I wouldn't give him a stone. At the same time, if he actually asked me for a stone because he thinks that will satisfy his hunger, it would be absurd for me to give it to him instead of the bread he actually needs. He might not be old or mature enough to understand that a stone is the last thing he needs when he's hungry, but hopefully I have that insight.

So we've established that most of the time, parents have the best interest of their children in mind. As the passage says, "how much more wil your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" This is the awesome part, because (like many things in the Bible) it serves to free us. Consider for a moment the ramifications of this passage:
  • If we ask for good things, God will give them to us.
  • If we ask for bad things, God knows what we actually need.
If that is the case, then
What are we waiting for?
We should be asking God for things constantly. We should always be trying to determine what God's will is, and what we might be in need of. These requests usually shouldn't be for a new bike or an iPod (though who knows, maybe in some cases that's exactly what you need), but spiritual gifts like patience and courage.

A small caveat here is that the Bible makes it clear that there are things God will give us only if asked. There are abundant spiritual gifts that God is waiting to shower down on us, if only we have the presence of mind and the desire to come to him with arms wide open, pleading for his gifts.
As a side note, it's important to recognize that a lot of the amazing things we should be asking for are actually terrifying in a "be careful what you wish for" type of way. You can bet that if you pray for patience, God will find a way to put you in a situation where you will have the opportunity to develop it. If you ask for the chance to witness to someone, be prepared for some conversations you might not have expected to have.

Conveniently, or more likely providentially, the sermon on Sunday focused on prayer as well, and though it covered many of the same things as I've already discussed, there was one thing that was too good not to share. Personally, I have a lot of trouble finding the time and motivation to pray. The pastor, who did a fantastic job of acknowledging all of our shortcomings, suggested the following prayer (I don't remember the exact phrasing, but this the general gist):
God, help me, I'm really messed up.
Try it sometime. If you think to yourself, "I should be praying more, maybe later when I have more time," just throw that one up. You'd be surprised how much good it can do.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now Do It

After a short hiatus, the time now seems to be right for a renewed commitment to writing on a regular basis. At this moment it is impossible to tell whether anything will come of said commitment, but I seem to have a significant block of time most mornings before heading to work that should lend itself quite well to some reflections.

Tomorrow evening, I will be joining Michael's Bible study group for the first time as they wrap up a series on discipleship. The text comes from Matthew 7, and includes many iconic passages relating to how we as Christians should approach salvation and evangelism. Sections include: "Judging Others," "Ask, Seek, Knock," "The Narrow and Wide Gates," "True and False Prophets," "True and False Disciples," and "The Wise and Foolish Builders."

Most people who have spent any time in the Word would probably be able to give a fairly detailed account of the contents of most of those sections. The problem for me is that having grown up with them, I have a hard time gleaning new insights from the words.

Making a point to find new insights helps a bit, though, and then the challenge becomes, "now do it." Unfortunately that is the hard part. Come to think of it, not only is it hard, but it happens to be humanly impossible.

Imagine for a moment how much different the world would be if it was easy. The rules and guidelines laid out in this passage are almost universally accepted as life's best practices.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Don't judge others.
  • Allow your actions to speak for your beliefs.
I want to put those into practice. I try to put those into practice. I just fail. Miserably. Constantly. Mostly because I still attempt them on my own.

I look forward to getting some other perspectives on this chapter tomorrow night, and I will report back if there is something worth sharing.