Spiritual Searching - Seek And Ye Shall Find
Matthew 7:7-11 Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. (8) For each one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. (9) Or what man is there of you, if his son asks a loaf, will he give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a snake? (11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Luke 11:5-13 And He said to them, which of you shall have a friend and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves, (6) for a friend of mine has come from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him? (7) And he answering from inside may say, Do not trouble me. The door is now shut and my children are in bed with me. I cannot rise and give to you. (8) I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will arise and give him as many as he needs. (9) And I say to you, Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. (10) For everyone who asks receives. And he who seeks finds. And to him who knocks it shall be opened. (11) For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish? (12) Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? (13) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
Introduction - A God Who Is Good
This passage encourages us to ask God for things and gives us the clear assurance that our Father in Heaven will give good gifts to those who ask Him. The idea behind this is that we have a good God, who we can communicate with, and who responds to our spiritual searching in a positive fashion.
God is interactive! God is responsive! God hears your earnest requests and answers them. God is intelligent and wise and only answers those requests that will bring justice, truth and goodness into the world. What these verses are telling us is that we have a God who loves us, a God we can trust, and love, and receive good things from.
People tend to have a negative view of God, seeing God as being responsible for terrifying acts of judgment such as hurricanes, earthquakes and meteors, and not as responsible for the beautiful weather of a glorious day at the beach.
Yet the truth is that God is amazingly joyful and loving and kind and loves to do us good. He is called the “blessed God” because He is full of blessings. God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. Thus God is always positive, joyful, kind, loving, just and fair.
Faith is the way we get the goodness of God to appear in our lives. Asking is connected to receiving, seeking is connected to finding, knocking in faith is connected to the door being opened. It is the believing heart that gets Heaven's answer.
God wants to manifest His character, His goodness and His love in the daily details of your life. God wants to abundantly bless you. For this blessing you must believe, you must have faith and you must hold onto God as you ask, seek and knock.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive
Jesus tells us 'Ask and you shall receive.... For each one who asks receives;” and later on His brother James writes in his epistle “you have not because you ask not”. (James 4:2). The Bible encourages us to ask! God wants us to come to Him and to come before the throne of grace in time of need:
Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
There are many, many passages that encourage us to ask, but we must ask “In God's will”. Now asking “in God's will” generally involves three things:
You must be asking for something that is righteous, positive, hopeful, joyful and loving, something that fits the goodness of God.
You must not be asking for that which is evil, lustful, worldly or selfish.
You must ask in faith without doubting and know in your heart that God has heard you.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (15) And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
James 4:1-6 From where do wars and fightings among you come? Is it not from this, from your lusts which war in your members? (2) You desire, and do not have. You murder, and are jealous, and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you have not because you ask not. (3) You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your lusts. (4) Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (5) Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us yearns to envy? (6) But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
Mark 11:22-24 And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith of God. (23) For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said. (24) Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you.
James 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. (7) For do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, not dependable in all his ways.
Now one thing that is very helpful in prayer is to develop a clear faith-picture of your request coming true. You can even draw the picture or cut out magazine picture and stick it on your mirror. The idea is to see in your mind, and eventually in your heart, the prayer coming true in loving, joyful and positive and hopeful ways. You have to take your mind off the problem and start seeing the solution by faith.
God did this with Abraham a number of times but we will just use two of them as an illustration:
Genesis 13:14-18 And after Lot was separated from him, Jehovah said to Abram, Lift up your eyes now and look from the place where you are northward and southward, and eastward and westward. (15) For all the land which you see I will give to you, and to your seed forever. (16) And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can count the dust of the earth, then shall your seed also be counted. (17) Rise up and walk through the land, in the length of it and in the breadth of it, for I will give it to you. (18) And Abram moved his tent and came and lived in the oaks of Mamre, which is in Hebron. And he built an altar to Jehovah there.
God tells Abraham to look around as far as he can, to walk through the land and claim it, to picture his descendants living in it. To wander about saying “this land is given to Abraham by God, this land is my land”. Every time Abraham looked outside he saw his Promised Land.
Genesis 15:5-6 And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness.
God gave Abraham a faith-picture by showing him the stars. Every time Abraham went out and looked out at the night sky he would remember the words “so shall your descendants be”. This was a powerful, positive faith-filled picture that Abraham held onto for twenty-five years until Isaac was born.
We need to believe God's promise to us so clearly that we can almost taste it.
Asking is more than tossing a wishful prayer up to heaven. It is holding a heart request for something that is beautiful and good before God and believing that it will come true. It is seeing the solution in the spiritual realm and believing that it will be brought to pass in the actual physical realm.
Now we often try to substitute something else for “asking in faith” such as:
- Vaguely Hoping
- A Ritual
- A Magical Practice
- Bribing God
- Being Good
- Thinking Hard
- Short-cuts / Ishmael's
- Believing A Favorite Doctrine
- Belonging To An Organization
- Memorizing The Bible
- Strong Emotion
- Spiritual Experiences
- Religious Philosophy
We simply do not trust God to hear our request and then fulfill His promise. Really believing God is hard, and it is so rare that Jesus once said:
Luke 18:8 Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
One last thing on asking - the difference between asking in faith and testing God.
Matthew 4:5-7 HCSB Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, (6) and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." (7) Jesus told him, "It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God."
Devil tries to trick Jesus into thinking that there are only two choices here:
1. Refuse to jump and thus imply that God could not be trusted to rescue Him as His Word says.
2. Jump and quite obviously get killed.
It is a spiritual dare “Do you really believe or don't you? What if your life depend son your faith and God's promises?” And Jesus response is basically: “I do not accept stupid dares.” It would be akin to playing “chicken” on the highway and expecting God to protect you.
There is a question - what is the difference between faith and folly? The difference is necessity. Jesus did not need to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple and it served no useful purpose. However He did need to walk on water to reach His disciples in the boat during the storm. Taking risks that you simply don't need to take is folly. The rattle snake handling cults are not spiritual and full of faith - they are foolish and testing God.
Seek And Ye Shall Find
The next admonition of Jesus is “seek and ye shall find” - but what are we supposed to seek:
Seek after God / the Lord (Acts 15:17, 17:27
- Seek first the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33)
- Seek God's will (John 5:30)
- Seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)
- Seek glory, honor and immortality (Romans 2:7, John 5:44)
- To excel in building up the Church (1 Corinthians 14:12)
- Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14;1,2,12)
- The interests of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:21)
- The things above (Colossians 3:1)
- To lead a quiet, productive and useful life (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
- The city of God (Hebrews 13:14
- Peace (1 Peter 3;11, Hebrews 12:14)
In other words we are to seek godly things not worldly things. We are not to seek after things to spend them on our own lusts and vanity. And we are not to seek after things that lead people astray - such as seeking money, power and fame.
If we do seek good and godly things then we will find them. If we seek after the Lord, He will be found, if we seek God's will, we will be able to do it, if we seek eternal life, we will have it, if we seek spiritual gifts and keep on seeking them, they will be ours.
Seeking takes a lot longer than asking. Seeking by its very nature is a process that requires effort. If you are going to seek and save the lost your seeking may take you to India or Turkey. If you are seeking to build up the church your seeking may take you to Bible college for a few years to learn how to go about it.
Seeking is a purposeful activity that involves the sustained pursuit of godly life-goals.
Seeking also involves the willingness to accept the answer, no matter what it is. If you say: “I am seeking God's will, as long as it does not involve becoming a pastor or a missionary or anything very difficult.” then you are not really seeking God's will. A scientist cannot say: “I am seeking a cure for cancer as long as its not difficult.” If you seek something of value then you must accept the answer and the process that goes with that seeking.
When Jesus says 'and every one who seeks finds...” implies “if you do not give up”. The verb is present tense which can imply continuity - to seek and keep on seeking. Some things we seek may take twenty years or more to come true. Yet other things may be answered instantly. When I read about the spiritual searching of some of the greats - people like Augustine, Wesley and Bunyan who spent years of struggle before finding inner peace with God. Complex people can take a long while to arrive at a simple but profound spiritual conclusion. For instance it took me a good ten plus years to accept the validity of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the charismatic and Pentecostal movement - whereas someone else may have easily reached that conclusion in a few weeks or days.
Seeking involves gradually changing what we understand and believe. If you seek to become holy then you will gradually give up that which is not holy. You will give up the worldly and profane and focus on that which is godly and beautiful and true. That change does not happen overnight for most people. If you seek spiritual gifts then you will have to learn about them and practice them and use them and develop them and change the way you do ministry to accommodate your new found gifts.
So seeking changes us as we move towards the godly goal. We find not just the goal we seek, but we find ourselves in the process. For instance if you go and seek and save the lost you start to find out things about who you are, and how you communicate and how you react to stress and disappointment and to people who do not want to hear the gospel. Eventually mastering the task of sharing your faith makes you a far better person. In seeking the godly goal we also end up seeking God and finding our truest selves.
Knock And The Door Shall Be Opened
Jesus then goes on to say: “Knock and it shall be opened to you.” This is obviously knocking on a door of some sort on order to gain entrance. Now the Bible talks of both physical doors and spiritual doors, and I think Jesus is obviously talking about spiritual doors here. There are at least seven spiritual doors that I can find in the New Testament and they are:
Christ Is The Door
John 10:7-9 Then Jesus said to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. (8) All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. (9) I am the door. If anyone enters in by Me, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.
The Door Of Heaven
Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door was opened in Heaven. And the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you what must occur after these things.
The Door Of The Soul
Revelation 3:20-21 (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne.
The Door Of Salvation
Luke 13:23-30 And one said to Him, Lord, are the ones being saved few? And He said to them, (24) Strive to enter in at the narrow gate. For I say to you, many will seek to enter in and shall not be able. (25) And once the Master of the house has risen up and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us, and He shall answer and say to you, I do not know you; from where are you; (26) then you shall begin to say, We ate and drank in Your presence, and You have taught in our streets. (27) But He shall say, I tell you, I do not know you; from where you are. Depart from Me, all workers of unrighteousness! (28) There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you will see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves being thrust out. (29) And they will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and will recline in the kingdom of God. (30) And behold, there are last ones which will be first, and there are first ones which will be last.
The Door Of Faith
Acts 14:27 And having arrived, and gathering the church they related all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the nations.
The Door Of Ministry
1 Corinthians 16:8-9 (8) But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. (9) For a great and effective door opened to me, and many are opposing.
2 Corinthians 2:12 (12) And, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,
Colossians 4:2-3 Continue in prayer and watch in it with thanksgiving, (3) praying together about us also, that God may open to us a door of the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I also have been bound.
Door Of Influence
Revelation 3:8 I know your works. Behold, I have given before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength and have kept My Word and have not denied My name.
These are the doors at which we can knock. We can ask for our own salvation or for opportunities for God's Word, or to enter into heavenly realities, or for a door of faith to be opened in a closed nation or for a door of influence to be opened for a faithful ministry.
Sometimes we have to keep banging on the door for a while, doors for the gospel sometimes open slowly and we must be persistent in knocking. God wants us to enter into the Kingdom and to enter into life and to enter into faith and hope and love and the heavenly Jerusalem and into the things of the Spirit. He wants us to keep pushing our ways through those doors.
But every entering is also a leaving behind. When you walk through one door you leave the old room behind. Before we can enter into new realities we have to be prepared to leave old realities behind. If we want to enter into Christ, we must leave sin behind, if we want to enter into the kingdom, we must leave the world behind, if we want to enter into life, we must leave sin and death behind. And if we want to enter into the Spirit we must leave the flesh far behind. And if we want to enter into spiritual freedom we must leave legalism far behind.
God will open the door you are knocking on as soon as you are serious about actually going through it. You can have a deeper spiritual life any time you want, as long as you are serious about doing that and leaving vanity and the undisciplined life far behind. God wants you to desire holy things and to ask for them, seek them and knock on His door to enter into them.
Now there is a view among some folk that spiritual searching (asking, seeking and knocking) is dangerous, and can lead you into insanity or even into demon possession. That is how heresies come about they argue. Just stick with the safe basics and don't go near the end times, or the book of Revelation or spiritual warfare, and certainly don;t go to bible college or you will end up as nutty a fruit-cake. This is the Devil lie to keep Christians spiritually inactive and immature in the faith. The truth is quite the opposite:
Matthew 7:9-11 Or what man is there of you, if his son asks a loaf, will he give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a snake? (11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Luke 11:11-13 For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish? (12) Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? (13) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
John 3:34 For He whom God has sent speaks the Words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
The argument here is from the lesser to the greater. If sinful, selfish human beings know how to give good things to their children, then how much more will a good, wise, loving Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him? God will not give you a serpent or a rock, God will not give you a demon or send you insane, instead He will give you the Holy Spirit, and teach you accurately and well and satisfy your spiritual hunger with good food.
So it is safe to come to God and to search out spiritual things and to ask, and to seek and to knock on Heaven's door.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and with no reproach, and it shall be given to him.
Jesus is teaching us that God is not inaccessible or unresponsive. Nor does He only respond to special people . Jesus says “For each one who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” Thus it is not only missionaries, pastors, priests and nuns who get their prayers answered or who hear Gods voice, or who receive spiritual gifts. The most ordinary Christian can safely go on an earnest spiritual quest and ask, seek and knock for things from Jesus Christ.
Some of God's greatest saints have been shoemakers, fishermen, tax-collectors and shepherds who simply sought God in the midst of their daily work until one day God turned up in a burning bush, or on Lake Galilee or at their tax-booth and called them into ministry. You can start the life of faith right now, you can decide to live a different kind of life, driven by a faith-vision and a spiritual quest for more of God. You will not end up a lunatic, but you may well end up with a Christ-like character.
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