Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The message of the gospel is very direct. Being made aware of your status as a sinner by the preaching of God's Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you repent (change your mind) and believe (are persuaded to trust) that Messiah (Jesus) has come and offered himself as the atonement (sacrifice to turn away punishment) for sin, to reconcile (reestablish the relationship) you to God, so that you may be converted (return to worship), through confession (to concede or surrender) and faith in God's mercy. This is completely an act of God's loving grace, and in no way dependent upon any righteous works we may do or attempt. No one can earn this salvation; it is a gift available by invitation only. Any person so converted is regenerated (reborn) in spirit and released from the guilt of sin (forgiven) receiving a new nature, desiring to worship God, being liberated from the control of habitual sin. (Acts 3:19, Mark 1:15, Romans 5:8 6:23 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-9,Titus 3:3-7& John 10:27-30)

False Faith

Matthew 7:21-23

25 August 2013

Profession or Conversion

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

This is a disturbing passage and anyone presenting the gospel needs account for the consequences of a false profession. Jesus says that on that day when God's elect are separated from the condemned, that some people will be taken by surprise thinking they would inherit the kingdom but in reality they have been deceived.

Throughout the entire Sermon Jesus has again and again referenced the Kingdom of Heaven, this week He looks at it in particular by showing us who enters that kingdom.

There is quite a connection here to the last few portions of the Sermon. We have just talked about the Narrow way and False Teachers and next week we will look at false foundations. It is natural for teachers try and simplify a message but the problem is that some will take a single salvation verse and oversimplify the conversion process. If you look at historical times of great evangelism the word frequently used is "converted", but sometime in the later part of the 20th century the message seemed to change from "be converted" to "profess your faith and do righteous works". And righteous works would change depending on whose teaching you were following. Some emphasized baptism, others had classes like confirmation, and others will say you must speak in tongues. But the common thread was profession + righteous works = salvation. Romans 10:13 says "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved". So if you just had Romans 10:13 and looked at this passage in Matthew 7 you would struggle to explain why "many" who say "Lord, Lord" are not saved, as Jesus said.

This week I post the following paragraph on Facebook:

The message of the gospel is very direct. Being made aware of your status as a sinner by the preaching of God's Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you repent (change your mind) and believe (are persuaded to trust) that Messiah (Jesus) has come and offered himself as the atonement (sacrifice to turn away punishment) for sin, to reconcile (reestablish the relationship) you to God, so that you may be converted (return to worship), through confession (to concede or surrender) and faith in God's mercy. This is completely an act of God's loving grace, and in no way dependent upon any righteous works we may do or attempt. No one can earn this salvation; it is a gift available by invitation only. Any person so converted is regenerated (reborn) in spirit and released from the guilt of sin (forgiven) receiving a new nature, desiring to worship God, being liberated from the control of habitual sin. (Acts 3:19, Mark 1:15, Romans 10:9-10, Titus 3:3-7& John 10:27-30)

Acts 3:19 Repent (change your mind) and be converted (return to worship God), that your sins may be erased.

Mark 1:15 Repent (change your mind) and believe (be persuaded to trust) the gospel (Messiah has come).

Romans 10:9-10 Confess (concede) and believe (be persuaded to trust)

"For with the heart a man is persuaded to trust in Christ's righteousness, and with the mouth he concedes (surrenders) to salvation."

John 6:40 "this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes (persuaded to trust) in Him may have everlasting life".

So contrast those who profess Jesus to whom he says "I never knew you" with John 10:27-28 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand". 

There are 3 kinds of people in the world; trespassers who uses the blessings of God's creation while refusing to acknowledge Him, posers who profess to be Christians but do not follow Jesus, and true followers who experience Jesus as the good shepherd leading his flock of faith in all grace and mercy.

Profession without conversion produces posers, false Christians who are themselves deceived by their own self-righteousness, demonstrated by righteous works. When I posted my paragraph on the gospel this week Stephen Hayes one of our former worship pastors sent me a note saying that my narrative was a great fit for a graphic they had introduced to teach Christians how to tell their story.


The following lesson will look at this text and present four applications and four truths, but we must see these three verses as one unit of thought. That unit of thought creates the reality that what and man believes and what a man does are connected to one another and have eternal consequences.

Don't be Deceived; Hell is Real

The first thing I think we need to notice about this passage is that Hell is real. We covered this already with the Narrow Gate, but we need to make sure people know about it. In our 101 class we teach at Hallmark there is a section on what we believe, one of those beliefs is about eternity. It states,

People were created to exist forever. We will either exist eternally separated from God by sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is eternal life. Heaven and Hell are places of eternal existence.

There are many Scriptures that support the idea of eternity in heaven or hell:

Matthew 18:8-9—"And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire."    

John 3:16—"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

John 14:1-3—"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

2 Corinthians 5:10—"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

2 Thessalonians 1:9-10—"They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed."

Revelation 20:15—"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Eternity is real and the places of eternity, Heaven and Hell, are real as well. However, this is a reality we like to think about only so often. It is an uncomfortable one especially for those who do not know for sure that Jesus is their Lord. Notice I did not state those who know they are going to heaven. This is an important distinction, for many people think they are going to heaven because of something they have done and not because of Jesus.

This may seem like simple, no brainer, basic Christianity. However, we cannot assume that people are believing correctly. There is too much at stake. Hell is real, but we also must not be deceived. Just like we need to watch out for false teachers we must watch out for false teaching. Anyone who teaches that there is no Hell or that we will somehow be saved from it apart from personal repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord is providing false teaching and it is deceptive. We must not be deceived and we must proclaim this reality, uncomfortable as it might be.

Don't be Diluted; Belief Matters

The second thing we need to see in this passage is the emphasis on belief. Belief matters in faith. There is right belief and there is wrong belief, but there also are half-truths that people believe. These half-truths are definitely wrong, but they seem to be correct. This passage is addressing those people who think they have been following God. They have called Him "Lord" so they think they know Him, but He knows them not. This is like someone who has a person they idolize, say a movie star. This person has watched every movie, read every biography, knows details that few know about this person that most do not know. In addition this person has even been in the presence of the movie star a few times and gloats about shaking a hand or taking a picture with them. However, if we were to go to the movie star and ask them if they knew this person we would find they have no idea who that person is. Though they knew all about the star, the star knew little about them, and that makes all the difference.

The problem is that so much of what we believe has been diluted, that means it has been watered down to what someone thought was the bare essentials. These people often are false prophets who promise the blessings of God for small sacrifices from us. "Come forward and repeat after me and you will be saved." "Give to my ministry and you will be blessed."

Don't be Distracted; Actions Matter

Jesus said "my sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me". Following Jesus is evidence of your conversion. To hear his voice is both to respond to the gospel call and to love his words as a believer. Also his sheep love being a part of the flock, they love the church family, and they love being led by Jesus.

Christians will be active in their faith. Though we are not works-based, we are works demonstrated. I believe this is exactly what James what combating when he said, "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18) The Christian that is living the life will have a life that is doing the work of the kingdom, that is, doing the will of the Father. Though we have just learned that we will know a False Teacher by his fruit, the same can be said of a Christian, we will know him or her by their fruit, which is the work they are doing.

Don't be Discouraged; Jesus has Overcome

In conclusion, we must not be discouraged. It can be quite a downer to talk about Hell and wonder if we are truly going to Heaven or not. But the encouragement that we must look for is the Gospel itself. Jesus has overcome and those who believe in Him truly have found Heaven and then will truly do the will of the Father. But none of that will happen unless we know Jesus as our Lord. When we do know Jesus as our Lord in that final day we will say "Lord, Lord" and His reply will not be like this passage, but "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Titus 3:3-7

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

So if you were asked by Jesus for the testimony of your hope of heaven; would it be profession plus works or would you describe your conversion saying something like this?

"Lord, did you not call me; did you not die in my place; was I not convinced of my sin; was I not persuaded to trust you; did I not surrender to your grace when I cried out for mercy, do you not lead me as Lord"? That is a faith in salvation as the work of Jesus, not the self-righteousness of man.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Golden Rule

Matt. 7:12

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (NKJV).

This statement has been called, "the capstone of Christ's discourse" and "the Everest of all ethical teaching". Go pretty much anywhere in the world and you'll sense that this appeal to man's conscience applies, in some form, even there.

This is because, in a negative form, the golden rule is found in the teachings of: Socrates, Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha, and Hillel. Rabbi Hillel's version read, "What is hateful to yourself do not do to someone else." Jesus, however, changed the rule from the negative to the positive and from the passive to the active: enshrining it in every heart and mind through His matchless life.

Before we are reminded of the golden rule's straightforward explanation it's important for us to see where it lands in the context of Christ's sermon. He begins verse 12 saying, "Therefore"; and any committed student of the Bible should ask the question, "What's it there for?"

1. The Context of the Statement

Jesus essentially says, "Therefore, in light of:

  • The Beatitudes (5:1-12)
  • The Similitudes (5:13-15 - salt & light)
  • Sins begins in the heart (5:21-30)
  • Divorce (5:31-32)
  • Vows (5:33-37)
  • Retaliation (5:38-42)
  • Love (5:43-48)
  • Giving (6:1-4)
  • Prayer (6:5-13)
  • Forgiveness (6:14)
  • Fasting (6:16-18)
  • Wealth and Worry (6:19-34)
  • Righteous Judgment (7:1-6)
  • Ask, seek, & knock, God answers (7:7-11)

"Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." It's basically Christ's summary point before entering the conclusion of His sermon in verses 13-28. He could have also said, "In summary, do unto others as you would have them do unto you…" Now that the context is clear, it's important to understand that the golden rule is a…

2. The Command by Our Savior

Jesus took this well know negative and passive code of conduct and created a positive and active command. In simplicity and Divine wisdom He takes the second great commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself", which is more of an attitude than an action; and he reminds us that our actions should be driven by our attitudes. He condensed all moral conduct down to one filter, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." But do not mistake simplicity of recitation for simplicity of application…

Jesus did not say, "Do AS others do unto you" or "Do WHEN others do unto you". No, He advised us to adopt other people's perspective and then act accordingly.

Jesus commanded this affirmative action because He designed "The Golden Rule" to be the "Golden Ticket" to healthy relationships.

Do you want a better marriage? Put yourself in your spouse's shoes and love accordingly (figuratively of course, no cross-dressing please). Paul, essentially says this in Eph. 5:28, "In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself" (NKJV).

Do you want a better parent/child relationship? Give honor to one another by considering each other compassionately. Eph. 6:1-4 says, "Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 'Honor your father and mother.' This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 if you honor your father and mother, 'things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.' 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord" (NKJV).

Do you want a promotion at work? Put yourself in your boss' shoes and work like you would have someone work for you. Like Paul says in Eph. 6:5-8, "Slaves [employees], obey your earthly masters [bosses] with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6 Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 9 Masters [bosses], treat your slaves [employees] in the same way. Don't threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (NKJV).

Do you want unity in the church? Treat your faith family the way you would like to be treated. Romans 12:10 "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (NKJV).

Do you want a good relationship with your neighbor? BE the kind of neighbor that you would like to have living next door. Mark 12:31, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (NKJV).

Jesus says that embodied in the Mosaic Law and amplified in the prophetic word, the golden rule is the underlying principle of all morality. We are to consider the needs of others then behave accordingly. This is a difficult rule to apply to your life, as it will be challenged often, but the ultimate fruit of its application is worth the effort.

3. The Christ-like Spirit in Every Saint

True followers of Jesus Christ not only recite the golden rule they incite the golden rule. The good news about the golden rule is that we are not left to ourselves to muster up the drive and determination to implement it daily in our lives. We have the wonderful Help of the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God clearly tells us that the moment we trust in Christ for salvation we are indwelt with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Jesus said in John 7:38&39, "'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (NKJV).

The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier and our source of spiritual strength to serve. He gives us the: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to "Do unto others as we want others to do unto us." He also enables the doing of it by His resurrection power.

Believers are not just good people they're God's people; gifted and empowered by His Spirit. When the world witnesses Christians living out the golden rule: at home, at church, at work, and in the community – they see Christ!

The Son of God is glorified in and loved by the Father and the Spirit, so when Jesus walked the earth the Spirit was constantly drawn to him. When Jesus sent out His disciples He sent them in the care of the Holy Spirit. After Christ ascended, the Holy Spirit was naturally drawn to the ones Jesus loved, His redeemed. He left us in the care of the Holy Spirit, to live and love as He did.

Paul writes, "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to
the point of death, even the death of the cross"
(Phil 2:1-8 NKJV).

Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the golden rule in that He put Himself in our shoes and then lovingly met our need. So, "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus". Jesus came NOT to be served but to serve and give His life (Matt. 20:28).

When we talked about the Holy and precious things (verse 6) I told you the simple truth of things that are sanctified and holy is that God chose them for Himself. Likewise we know that God has chosen His redeemed and placed us in the loving care of His Holy Spirit. And the Golden Rule is the way God has chosen for us to love each other, as He commanded. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is the embodiment or the active sense of love your neighbor as yourself. The Golden Rule is a sign of our faith; because we really believe that God is good, merciful, and righteous, we can love others by treating them the way we want to be treated.

Questions to consider:

  1. Why do you think the golden rule has universal application?
  2. Why did Jesus take the commonly known golden rule, "What is hateful to yourself do not do to someone else" and turn it into "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them"?
  3. Share some examples of implementing the golden rule in every day life then share how these actions could open the door for the gospel.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ask, Seek, Knock

Matthew 7:7-11

28th July 2013

"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! (Matthew 7:7-11)


A recent survey of people with over 1 million dollars in investments revealed that most of them do not feel wealthy until their assets, not counting their home exceed 5 million dollars. This shows the flaw of a world system that tells you to rely on yourself, or your government for what you need. Most people will never reach the point of feeling secure, in their ability to provide all that they want and need.

So to put this passage in context, our focus has been on the kingdom of heaven and repentance. We pray and fast to claim our dependency upon God, not just for righteousness but for life itself. We are to be beacons of hope serving with good motives, and rejecting worry. We are not to judge un-righteously, we are not to treat holy and precious things as common, for what is holy has been given to us from God. What we see are the ways in which we are supposed to respond to God. He is King and we are His citizens. Our position is to be one of dependence and trust to our benevolent king.

God wants our Petitions

As we begin to look at this text we see two main ideas. One, we are encouraged to ask for things from God, and two, God is pleased to give us what we need. So, first we must see that God wants our petitions, he desires for us to ask from Him. In this passage we see three imperatives from the get go: Ask, Seek, Knock. Though we will go into more detail about these below, in general these three words convey the message that God wants us to be in the practice of petitioning him with our requests.

This is the practice of prayer throughout the Bible. We see it displayed greatly in the psalms of David. We find many Psalms with requests for God.

Sometimes David is asking for repentance.

Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin! (Ps 51:1-2)

Sometimes it is in praise:

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,

and to you shall vows be performed.

O you who hear prayer,

to you shall all flesh come.

When iniquities prevail against me,

you atone for our transgressions.

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,

to dwell in your courts!

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,

the holiness of your temple! (Psalm 65:1-4)

Still there are other petitions that are when we are in distress:

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!

Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

From your presence let my vindication come!

Let your eyes behold the right! (Psalm 17:1-2)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,

and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)

David shows that we are to pray to God in any circumstance that we are in. God longs for our petitions. Even in the last psalm that we cited we find Jesus Himself reciting it from the cross. In fact it was the common practice of Jesus to beseech the Father for things in His life. We can remember His High priestly prayer where Jesus is asking many things, but in particular prays for us:

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)

We have a great God who wants to hear our prayers, in fact the entire way in which our relationship with Him works is based upon us communicating to Him. Not because He has an ego, but because He desires children who seek after Him. With such a simple declaration to ask, seek, and knock, it should come as no surprise to us the Scripture that states, You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:2-3) We need to be a people who are in the practice of asking, seeking, and knocking because we have a God who desires us to be so.

God is Pleased to Grant our Petitions

The second thing that we need to see from this passage is that God is pleased to answer our prayers. When we ask, seek, and knock, he answers, is found, and responds. Look at what the text says, For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. This is not just a simple no brainer about prayer, but points to the charity of our God towards us. He is a God that loves us greatly, and as such he wants to answer our requests.

Jesus demonstrates that desire to us with a few analogies by drawing on our own understanding of what a Father should be. He says, 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? When we look at these stories we would find the Father who did such things to be a horrible Father. In fact some of us would call CPS as soon as possible for such a dad. Fathers are not supposed to be unloving and cruel. Fathers are to care for their children, feed them, clothe them, and train them up in love. Though it does not always work this way and though many fathers fail, we still known deep down what a Father is supposed to be like. The reason for this is because it is a truth written on our hearts (cp. Rom 2:15), it is the truth that God is our loving Father.

Since we have such a Father who always is loving towards us (even in discipline and punishment) we should understand that He is always going to give us good things. When we ask, seek, and knock to Him we are able to receive good things back from Him because that is His desire. This is the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. We need to recognize that it is in the nature of God, in His love, that He wants to care for us and answer our petitions that we offer to Him. God will give us what is good for us; he will give what is best for us.

This also means that God will never give us what is evil for us. Just as the character of God is loving and from that He gives us good things, the reality is that God's character is not evil and cannot give evil things to us. Though it may seem at times that we are struggling with different things in the world (temptations, pain, problems, etc.) we must know that these do not come from God. The character of God is depicted well in this story. When we ask God for something like food or money He is not going to respond to that request with a snake or more trouble. It is against His character. God is not going to give us what is evil.

It seems like a simple thing to say that God wants to grant our petitions and that He gives us what is good and what is not evil. However, we run into problems when troubles come. This is where we need to be mature in our faith and aware of what is going on around us. Sometimes when we pray to God the answer is no or wait, in the moment we may not understand why it is that God did not answer with a yes. It is in hindsight that we can look and see that God had indeed answered our requests in a good way. Though it may be less than spiritual, the sentiment of Garth Brooks' song "Unanswered Prayers" is legitimate here. (Look it up if you do not know it). Things that we have prayed for have often been the wrong things for our lives, and our all-loving God knows this and as a good Father always gives us what we need. The hard part is that it is only in hindsight when we realize it. So, we need to learn to trust more in the loving, good God who desires to answer our petitions.

We must be Persistent with our Petitions

Finally, from this passage we have seen that God wants us to pray and wants to answer our prayers, so, we must be a people who are persistent with petitions. We must embody the Scripture that says, Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

This passage in particular addresses this on a grammatical level. The three main verbs of this text, Ask, Seek, and Knock, are all Present Active Imperatives. What that means is that these are commands that Jesus is giving to His hearers. We are to be asking, seeking, and knocking all the time, and when we are doing these commands we know that we are persistent in seeking God's best for our lives. Though there are many important imperatives throughout the Bible, the imperative to pray is the life force behind the rest for we cannot make disciples without the power of God on our side, and we do not have that power apart from asking for it from God.

So what does it really look like to be a person who is persistent in petitions? Jesus has already provided that illustration for us in the beatitudes. In Matthew 5:6 He says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see that the satisfactions, the good things, that come from God, are given to those who are hungering and thirsting for it. There must be a longing in our souls to consistently cry out to our creator. If we taste and know that the Lord is good we will always want to come back for more.

In conclusion let me leave you with a quote from the famed pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Our Lord does not promise to change life for us; He does not promise to remove difficulties and trials and problems and tribulations; He does not say that He is going to cut out all the thorns and leave the roses with their wonderful perfume. No; He faces life realistically, and tells us that these are things to which the flesh is heir, and which are bound to come. But he assures that we can so know Him that, whatever happens, we need never be frightened, we need never be alarmed. He puts all that in this great and comprehensive promise: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2:196)

Life Group Discussion Questions:

  1. How persistent is your prayer life?
  2. Do you feel like God answers your prayers?
  3. Have you had times where you felt God was not giving you good things? Why?
  4. Describe sometimes when you have heard God say yes and provide?
  5. Describe a time when God withheld and it was for your good.
  6. How can you build a more persistent prayer life?