God Alone Gives What is Best

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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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 7:7–11)

What a great passage of hope and care and encouragement that we have this morning. A picture of a loving Father who desires, who wants to give good gifts to His children. This is such an awesome revelation to us of who God is and what He is like!

Do you ever worry over the necessities of life? Do you worry over what the future holds for you or for someone you love? Do you fear what you imagine what might be around the corner for you? Or maybe you are anxious or fearful because you don’t have a clue what lies ahead. Maybe you read the news and you think our society is crumbling and that what we know now will be gone soon. Maybe life looks like chaos to you, out of control with no one piloting the ship! Life can certainly be unpredictable!

Tammy and I celebrated our 35th anniversary on March 17, two Sundays ago. 35 years! That probably seems like forever to some of you! It is a long time and I can say that much of our married life has been very unpredictable. That is how life is, we don’t know what lies ahead. For us, Tammy and I we talked about some of the things in our marriage that happened that we could never have predicted. Like: having 5 children, when we married we would have thought that would be crazy, having 5 boys. Or the fact that I have been preaching for 20 years, that was never on our radar. Or that we would homeschool, live in north Texas, have 7 grandchildren, all of these things, good things, we could never have anticipated. Life is that way. If you are newly married or not yet married, I’m telling you that if the Lord doesn’t come back soon and you live a long life, you will look back and be surprised at where you are and all that God has brought your way. It is exciting and yet can be scary.

But here is the thing for the Christian life, though unpredictable in many ways, is not out of control and it won’t be out of control, maybe out of your control but not out of God’s control. And this is the beauty of being a Chrisitian, being in the loving and strong hand of God. And that is tremendous for us to consider. And since God is in control and we are not, then our ultimate thoughts should be around living by faith in our God who loves us. We can believe that God is in control because He is and that He cares for us because He does. So when things seem crazy, they aren’t when things seem random and chaotic, they aren’t. When life feels hopeless, it’s not. And I can say all of this because God is great and involved in every aspect, every small detail of every day of our lives. And He will continue to lead and guide and provide according to His good will.

Now, our passage this morning helps us to see this, helps us to see God’s care and His love for us..and His provision for us.

Let me read it again:

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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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 7:7–11)

This passage is much about God giving to us what is good. It says of what God gives us in verse 11, that those things are good.

Now, There is another quick thing that I want to mention before we move on. For those of us who strongly believe that God is sovereign that He is big and that He is in control. For those of us who take passages like Isaiah 46:10 seriously that speaks of God who has purposes and will accomplish all His purposes, it says there of God

10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Isaiah 46:10).

And also passages like we read recently in this book that speaks of God’s involvement even in the details of life. Matthew:6:25-26

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25–26).

Or even in Matthew 10:29-31

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.(Matthew 10:29–31).

We see in these verses both a big God ruling and reigning in big ways in the world and at the same time a God who looks into and reigns over the details of the world which includes our lives. And even that he is committed to caring for our needs.

So we can be tempted to say…if God is big and able and cares for me then why do I ever need to ask Him for anything? Well, good question, if you are asking it and let me tell you three simple reasons why we are to ask. First, God wants us too and secondly God commands that we ask and thirdly, even though God is big and committed to our good, there is somehow in someway, thought perhaps mysterious to us there is some way in which He makes room in all of His sovereign works and plans, he makes room in that to act on and answer our prayers. And that is exciting, or should be exciting for us!

He says, your Father who is in heaven gives good things to those who ask him!

Jesus says ask. This is an extension of the Lord’s prayer just a few verses up. This is a call for us to pray and more specifically to ask the Father and of His willingness and desire to give to us, to give us good things.

The key principle is to ask. The asking is further emphasized by adding the metaphors of seeking and knocking. mmm

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

Ask, Seek, Knock.

It does not say, worry, fret, be fearful, try to figure out everything, make it work, force a resolution, manipulate others, blame, be depressed, give up, shut down…none of these things. Instead there is a God in heaven and if you are a believer then He is there to hear your call and to provide what will be good for you.

So, ask, seek and knock and each of these are referring to going to God in prayer.

I mentioned that Tammy and I have experienced many unexpected things in 35 years of marriage. Some of those things were hard. There were times of uncertainty financially, health issues that were very challenging, relationships that needed mending, times when we were misunderstood, gossiped about and for me, at least, fear of the future. I regret to say that in many cases, instead of asking, seeking and knocking, I willingly participated in some of the other things I listed. I would, at times, just try and work out everything in my own strength in my own way.

There are problems with that approach and the main problem is that I would put myself in a place of control and think of my own mind as wise and capable and set out to be like God rather than to humbly go to God. It is a sad picture for any of us.

God stands ready to help and respond and we act as if He is not even there. When all the while He is saying, come to me in prayer and I will give to you what is good. And then for us to simply believe that and go on living in a way that we know is honoring to Him.

That is what this passage lays out for us. Our problem may be not that we doubt His ability to intervene but maybe we doubt His goodness. Our thinking may be, if I call upon God in this He will do what He believes should be done but it may not be what I think should be done. And so we may not trust in His goodness, believing His goodness really is good, really is good for us.

Jesus illustrates for us how God acts.

8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

This is a statement of God’s attention toward us. He willingly gives us His attention. He listens, He hears, He is not ambivalent or disinterested. He hears even you!

Now, in what way does He respond to our prayers, our asking?

We have this illustration that answers our question.

9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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!

Jesus compares an earthly father who loves his children with our heavenly father. Even the most loving of earthly fathers is unloving compared with God. That may sound harsh and yet it is true. An earthly father who loves his children is still a sinner, still sins against his children, still struggles with selfishness, and is incapable of perfect love. And even such an earthly father who falls short, even he desires to do good, at least in some measure for his children. Jesus is saying even an sinful earthly father, who loves his children would give good things to his child.

If a child asks for bread the father would not give a stone and if the child asks for fish to eat, the father would not be so cruel so as to give a serpent. Right? If an early father who still has remnants of evil in him wants to give what is good to the child. So how much more would a loving, perfectly loving heavenly father give what is good to his children, to those who ask?

God is good and God is giving, the giver of good gifts.

Now, every passage has context and in this passage I want to make two very important points regarding context.

First, we have to take this passage in light of what we read earlier in this book in the Lord’s prayer. In the Lord's prayer we read this,

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9–10).

Jesus leads us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is important. When we pray, when we ask of God it must always be with a desire that God’s will be done. In other words, we do not have the liberty or some right to just ask God for any old thing and expect that He must bend to our will.

God is not in the business of fulfilling all of our lusts for money or pleasure or for worldly pursuits. He is not interested in just making us comfortable or fulfilled in any way we desire. He is instead interested, very interested in what is best for us not what we may imaging is best for us.

Often our prayers are not answered as originally desired because we do not share God’s perspective in knowing what is ultimately a good gift for us. We are especially tempted to think of the values of this world (e.g., health and wealth) rather than spiritual values. Our values may not line up with Gods when we ask and it is God’s values that are ultimately good and good for us.

What is ultimately good for us is that we partake in pursue and love spiritual blessings and especially that we become more and more like Jesus Christ. So, It is good that we are being moved and change to be more like Jesus Christ. If what we are asking for is not consistent with this and God’s good goal for us to be more like Christ then we should not expect answers to those prayers, at least not in the form that we asked.

I may want wealth in this life, but if wealth in this life is not good for me then God will not give it. I want, I may want good health in this life but if sickness is what will lead me to be more like Christ, if through sickness I learn patience and dependence on God then it may be that sickness is what is good and best for me.

Our sight can be so skewed by this world that we live in but God sees clearly and knows what is best for us.

If only our desires would match God’s desires! If only we could see through spiritual eyes more clearly and see God’s good work in and around us for us. This can be hard for us and this is why Paul prays for us the way he does in Ephesians:

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.(Eph 1:15–19)

We need our eyes opened, spiritual eyes opened so that we can see God’s good work and not doubt His good work in us.

Now, one more thing before I finish up. There is an ultimate way for us to understand this passage.

When Jesus says that we are to ask, seek and knock and that God will respond by giving to us what is good. The most gracious of all good gifts is the gift of eternal life through Christ who has been given for us, who has taken away the punishment for our sins. There is no greater gift that anyone can receive than God giving us a seat in His house at His table as His child, forever. There is no greater gift than to be called a child of God, to be His eternally.

We can be like spoiled brats at times. We think we need this or that to be happy when God has already given us the ultimate gift of salvation and a place in His heart. When we ask for anything , it should be with great humility, as one who has already received the ultimate gift and as one who is already satisfied with Him.

God is a giver of good things. We as His children are so blessed. He has us in His hand and so we can go forward in full trust that He will care for us perfectly now and forever.

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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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 7:7–11)