Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ask, Receive, Seek, Find and Knock

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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Many people are familiar with this passage, and much has been written about what it promises. But I would like focus, for a moment, on what it does not say. It says, “Ask, seek and knock,” not, “Ask, sit and wait.” In other words, it is an active process, not a passive one, and our responsibility does not begin and end with asking. There is also seeking and knocking.

Ask. Asking is not just realizing that you have a need. It requires that you articulate that need, and more especially, what is the solution you desire. And you must take the request to the appropriate source. Many people fail to receive what they need because they do not ask. “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Or they ask with the wrong motive. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Or they do not ask with the appropriate specificity. For example, you may have a lot of money in your bank account, but you cannot simply walk in and say, “I need money” and expect to receive. They will first need to know how much of your money you want to withdraw and then, upon your signature, they will get it for you.

Receive. With asking comes receiving. The promise is that when you ask, whatever you ask will be given to you. But that is not enough. You must also receive it. The Greek word for “receive” here is lambano, and means to take, to lay hold, to procure and make it your own (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It is not passive, but active. It is the same word we find in Mark 11:24, where Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The NASB says, “Believe that you have received them.” We lay hold by actively believing that it has been granted.

Seek. Having asked, and confident that we have received, it is time to actively watch for it, to search diligently for it and actively seek it out. It may call for research, and will certainly require discernment. Many may ask, believe that they have received it, but then miss it when it comes because they do not watch for it or recognize it, so it passes them by. Bummer. When we ask, we must then be certain to watch for it and expect to see it.

Find. When we diligently watch for and seek out the answer, confident that we have already receive it, we will find it. The Greek word for “find” is huerisko and means to come upon, hit upon, meet up with “to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience,” to “see, learn, discover, understand” (Thayer’s).

Knock. Many times when we ask and then seek, what we will find is a door, and it will be closed. Do not stop there and go away or you will miss your answer. You must knock. When you do, you will discover that it will be opened for you—God will see to it. Now, you may find some doors, when they are opened up to you, do not hold your answer. In that case, you keep seeking until you find the door that does. That door does exist, and your answer will surely be there.

Some people ask God for things, but do not lay hold of them by faith. Then they sit and wait, and wait, and wait, and wonder why the answer never showed up. But faith not only waits for the answer, it puts on it shoes and diligently searches for the answer, patiently knocking on all the doors it finds until it gets to the right one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Table of the Kingdom

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)

With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.… Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. (Luke 22:15-18)
The Table of the Lord speaks of the fulfillment of the kingdom of God. Jesus said that the kingdom is already “at hand” (Matthew 4:17), which is an idiomatic way of saying that is now here. Indeed, Jesus speaks of it as being present within His disciples (Luke 17:21). But it is not yet fulfilled, that is, it has not yet come in all its completeness. This will not happen until the King Himself returns.

In Matthew’s reading, the word “new,” does not speak of newness of time but of quality, the quality of kingdom fullness. In this way, The Table of the Lord is a sign of the return of the King. Paul reminds us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Not only is this Table a sign of the Father’s kingdom, it also shows that we are participants in that kingdom, that we truly belong to it, for the Lord promises that He will drink of it with us. However, we participate in His kingdom not merely as servants but as sons. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become the sons of God, and as sons, heirs of His kingdom. Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It is our inheritance.

The Table of the Lord is the sign that, though the kingdom of Heaven on Earth is already present and active within us, we shall one day experience it in all its fullness when Jesus returns.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Table of Covenant Kindness

Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1)
David had come into a place where he was able to bless people like he never could before, for he had now assumed his position as king of Israel. When the dust of his conquests settled, he remembered that there was some business to take care — to remember his covenant with Jonathan.
Then Jonathan and David made covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:3)

[David to Jonathan] “Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD.” (1 Samuel 20:8)
Jonathan did deal kindly with David, and though he and his father Saul were now dead, David still honored the covenant he made. “Is there still anyone who is left of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, who had been injured in an accident when he was a child and was now crippled. He was living in the house of Machir, which means “sold,” in the land of Lo Debar, a place “not a pasture” (Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Definitions) or “without treasure” (Lo means “not,” and Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says Debir means “treasure;” s.v. Debir). It was not a good circumstance, especially for one who once had been destined to be a prince.

David sent for Mephibosheth, and when he arrived said to him,
Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually. (2 Samuel 9:7)
Then David made it known: “As for Mephibosheth, he shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons” (v.11). And so it was. “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table” (v. 13). David blessed Mephibosheth for the sake of the covenant he made with Jonathan.

Like Mephibosheth, we also have a place where we may eat continually because of covenant, the Table of the Lord. On the last Passover Jesus shared with the disciples, He took the bread and said, “This is My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). Then He took up the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (v. 20).

The covenant He made with the Father is one cut in His own blood, but it was on our behalf and for our benefit. His body given for us, His blood shed for us is the kindness of the Lord spread before us at His Table.

Jesus invites us to this table, we who were without pasture, without treasure and sold into slavery by sin. With the bread He says, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26). And with the cup, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (vv. 27-28). “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).

The Father remembers this covenant. It is ever before Him and He is looking for those to whom He may show His goodness for Jesus’ sake. To us has been given the privilege of feasting continually at the Table of Covenant Kindness.