PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
ROBERT D PACE
Throughout the Bible Christians are encouraged to live godly lives. Scripture shows we aren’t our own, we have been bought with the incalculable price of Christ’s Blood and He has full ownership of us. Man was fashioned to serve, submit, and worship God. It’s clearly outlined how Christians should conduct themselves.
1. First, God calls Christians to diligent workmanship.
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard reveals that Christians been employed to work.
The Parable of the Talents admonishes Christians to avoid laziness and invest their talents.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins exhorts Believers to vigilant, unfeigned Spirit-filled life living.
When Christ cursed the fruitless fig tree He disclosed the consequences of spiritual barrenness.
Every Christian is called to accountable and productive service.
2. Secondly, He’s called Christians to consecrated living. In other words, our ambitions and focus and lifestyle must be centered on Christ.
Romans 12:1 says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. (2) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Matthew 16:24 says: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
3. Thirdly, Believers are called to growth and spiritual maturity.
Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, (2) instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (3) And God permitting, we will do so.”
2 Peter 1:5 says: “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
And the last verse of Scripture Simon Peter wrote says: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2PE 3:18).
4. God’s command to responsible, consecrated, and mature living is vital, but He also called Believers to arise and claim His blessings!
Do you realize that Israel could not become the nation God wanted them to be without departing Egypt, marching through the wilderness, and entering Canaan? God’s design wasn’t to emancipate the Jews from Egypt and plant them in the desert of Sinai. Their destiny was to inherit Abraham’s Promised Land! Failure to accomplish this would have been unacceptable to God.
So how would Israel claim this promise? That’s our question today: How can Christians claim what God has pledged in His Word?
How do we claim the promise of spiritual empowerment in Acts 1:8? Answer: we pursue this promise by prayer, by claiming the Scriptures, and receiving it “by faith.”
How do we claim the promise of having our needs met in Philippians 4:19? Answer: we pursue this promise by prayer, by claiming the Scriptures, and receiving it “by faith.”
How do we claim the supernatural guidance Jesus promised in John 16:13? Answer: we pursue this promise by prayer, by claiming the Scriptures, and receiving it “by faith.”
How do we claim 1 Corinthians 1:5 that speaks of being “enriched in every way?” Answer: we pursue this promise by prayer, by claiming the Scriptures, and receiving it “by faith.”
How do we claim inner peace, self-control, and a love for all men—even for our enemies? Answer: we pursue this promise by prayer, by claiming the Scriptures, and receiving it “by faith.”
Jesus addressed this when He spoke to the Apostles in Matthew 7:7. He said, “Ask and it will be given to you ; seek and you will find ; knock and the door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
God has a wonderful way of simplifying the secrets of the Christian walk. Jesus said: “Ask . . . seek . . . and knock. . . .” These verbs are spoken in the present tense and they indicate continued, sincere, and earnest petitioning. We ask and continually ask. We seek and continually seek. We knock and continually knock. We are to take serious all the promises of God and wholeheartedly seek for their presence in our lives. When we approach God’s promises with complacency and half-heartedly seek for his blessings, it’s doubtful we’ll claim anything.
(Transition) Let’s peer deeper into Matthew 7:7—8 and notice the implications of each. I’ll start with how Jesus wants us to implement the principle of asking.
I. Implement the Principle of “Asking”
(Illustration) Some years ago, I enjoyed watching the science fiction series, Time Traks. Its central figure was a 22nd Century policeman, named Darien, who traveled back to fight 20th Century crime. He solved the crimes by interacting with a computerized hologram named Selma that had assimilated all the knowledge of the twentieth century. On one occasion, Darien labored, long and hard, to uncover obscure facts of a case. When he finally found them, he blurted out his answer with a sigh of relief. Instantly the computer hologram said: “I knew that.” In frustration Darien replied, “Then why didn’t you tell me?” Selma, the computer, said: “Because you didn’t ask!”
That’s just what we need: smart-aleck computers! But isn’t this how we sometimes treat God? We ignore His counsel and expend needless labor to resolve life’s dilemmas. We try pursuing the path of least resistance but find impediments everywhere. We don’t specifically initiate the process by requesting God’s help. And the Bible says in James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” Regardless of what situation we find before us, let’s learn to ask from the start.
There’s a powerful Scripture recorded in 2 Corinthians that tells us how to petition God: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (1:20). We’re to declare a faith-filled affirmation of “Amen” to whatever God promises:
We must say “Amen” to Acts 1:8 that says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
In order to live victoriously over evil, there are times we must say “Amen” to Luke 10:19 that says God has given us “authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
In order to claim some blessings, we need to say “Amen” to Philippians 4:19 that says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
It is appropriate to ask God to use us in supernatural ways and say “Amen” to the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12.
And then, when we need divine guidance or insight, we should say “Amen” to John 16:13, which says “when . . . the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”
Is there a promise that God is encouraging you to claim? Is it a deeper relationship with Him; is it the baptism in the Holy Spirit; is it a greater knowledge of the Word; is it an expansion of your business? Don’t permit Satan to hinder you from asking for more than you possess. Without asking you may never inherit God’s highest intentions.
(Transition) Secondly, let’s discuss the need to employ the principle of “seeking.” Because Jesus said: “seek and you will find.”
II. Employ the Principle of “Seeking”
(Illustration) There’s a place in the Amazon Basin that offers the richest resources anywhere on earth—no other place can match it. Ironically, the people there are among the world’s most impoverished. Despite the abundant resources the people of that region haven’t expended their God-given skill and energy to claim those resources.
What a parallel to Christians and the unfathomable riches of God’s Word! Provisions and blessings surround us—hundreds of promises—but they’re often unclaimed. Yet, God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Seek the Lord! Seek His promises! You are certain to be enriched because nowhere else in the universe are blessings found that compare to what God’s Word offers!
(Transition) There is a great lesson in 2 Kings 6 about four lepers that illustrates the reward that comes from those that seek after God’s blessings.
The Four Lepers and Samaria
The Aramean army had placed an embargo around Samaria until the people of the besieged city began starving to death. Inflation skyrocketed and food literally became more valuable than money. The siege created a famine so severe that the people ate donkey’s heads just to survive.
As panic heightened among the Samaritans, Israel’s king looked for somebody on which to pin the blame. He figured the prophet Elisha was the culprit and vowed to decapitate him before sundown. Despite the king’s threat Elisha courageously vaulted into the king’s presence with a prophecy that seemed impossible of being fulfilled: “This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria” (2KI 7:1).
It’s amazing how brave God’s Prophets could be:
Moses dares Pharaoh to defy God.
Elijah confronts 450 prophets of Baal.
And here is Elisha, without an ounce of fear, seeking out the very one that placed a death-sentence on his life.
You see, there is a secret to the Prophet’s bravery. Remember the primary function of a Prophet. They are God’s spokesmen; His messengers; His mouthpiece. God’s Word made His Prophets fearless! It only takes one Word from God to make a messenger-prophet the most dangerous man on Earth. That’s because they know God will not let His Word return void! They know He will marshal all the angels of Heaven, if necessary, to accomplish it. This is what made the Prophets of Scripture almost superhuman. When they seized upon God’s Word it made them incontestable and they saw their enemies as stubble waiting to be burned. That’s why Elisha is fearless when he utters this astounding prophecy.
Meanwhile, there were four lepers sitting quarantined from the city. They reasoned: “If we sit here we’ll die, if we enter Samaria we’ll die, why not chance it and surrender to the Arameans? Perhaps they will have compassion on us.”
These lepers were in for a huge surprise because something had happened overnight. God caused the Arameans to hear chariots and horses thundering toward them and they assumed Israel had hired the Hittite and Egyptian armies. Moreover, the entire Aramean army fled! When the four lepers limped into the abandoned camp they had all its treasures as their spoils. After some discussion, they resolved that the honorable course of action was to notify the Samaritans so they could enjoy the blessings too. Within a day, Elisha’s prophecy came to pass—flour and barley were selling for pennies!
How ironic! Here were four lepers living as outcasts and destined to wallow in misery that suddenly claimed great riches. And they did it by employing the principle of “seeking.” Their reasoning was, “If we remain here in isolation we’ll die and if we enter Samaria we’ll die. So let’s surrender to the Arameans and perhaps they will spare us. What’s to lose?” That’s not much faith, but it worked!
I want you to consider something: Sometimes a last-ditch effort to do anything but nothing is the best course of action. That’s what these lepers show us. Instead of dying in exile, they arose and “sought” a solution to their dilemma. They realized their “seeking” surpassed their sitting!
John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress when he was crippled.
Abraham Lincoln was raised in poverty but ran for public office anyway.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was paralyzed, yet served as President of the United States.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph when he was nearly deaf!
George Frederick Handel nearly despaired of living. He was indebted and his creditors threatened to imprison him. Yet he found strength in God and wrote one of the masterpieces of all time, “The Messiah,” which contains the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Folks, this is the prophetic Word for today: God’s blessing won’t be seized until you look past your obstacles, arise, and seek for His blessing. How many Bunyan’s, Edison’s, or Roosevelt’s have remained unknown because they didn’t push past their obstacles and seek for God’s blessing?
It’s hardly without exception that Satan places impediments before God’s blessings. He’ll point out an enemy, a handicap, a shortcoming, or a dozen reasons why God’s goodness can’t be claimed. He’ll even accuse you of not being worthy of God’s blessings. You’re marked with leprosy—an obvious, incurable reproach that everyone sees! Just remember, God’s blessings come through grace and mercy. And that’s the basis that permits you to seek for God’s goodness.
(Transition) Thirdly, employ the principle of “knocking.”
III. Employ the Principle of “Knocking”
God supplies you with faith for all three of these principles. (1) We ask because we know God has unlimited resources. (2) We seek because we know His abiding presence will help us find. (3) We knock because we’re certain He’s home. But what does it mean to knock? Knocking creates sound. It produces noise. And the ultimate intention of “knocking” alerts someone that you want their attention.
(Illustration) Some years ago, I scheduled an appointment with a friend. He told me he would arrive at my house at 7:30. Without my knowledge, he arrived 30-minutes early. Finally, after waiting outside for 30-minutes he approached my door and knocked. And I permitted his entrance when he made the proper noise at the door.
When Christ tells us to “knock” so that Heaven’s door may be opened, what type of noise is He asking for?
A. First, tell God exactly what your need is. The Apostle Paul said, “Let your requests be made known unto God.” Be clear with God. Tell Him precisely what you desire. Don’t mince words.
B. But the Scripture doesn’t stop there. Paul continued that verse by saying, “Let your requests be made known unto God with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving should accompany our asking.
C. Then, Psalm 100 commands the sound of joy when you knock on heaven’s door. David said: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye people.”
The experience of “knocking” is simple. There’s nothing difficult about it. It’s simply your opportunity to alert God that you’re standing at His door and expecting His appearance!
(Transition) As I conclude, I want to quote this Scripture once again.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Someone might say, “But I earnestly asked, sought, and knocked without receiving my request. What happened?” If we properly exegete this passage, Jesus didn’t say we would receive precisely the things for which we ask, seek, and knock. But we will absolutely receive. We receive what He, as our Heavenly Father, deems best. And according to verses ten and eleven we never receive a “rock” or a “serpent.” He always gives “good gifts to those who ask him.”
We may ask for wealth, but if that should be a serpent, He won’t supply it.
We may seek a position, but should that be a rock of offense God won’t grant it.
We may knock for opportunity, but should that opportunity poison our life He won’t supply it.
Knowing that God will answer us according to His wisdom should always leave us with a trusting attitude toward God when He denies our human requests. There’s goodness awaiting you. Arise and claim the blessing!