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“If you then, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to your children who ask Him?  Matthew 7:11

“…..yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”  Luke 18:5

Prayer, the power of prayer, the need for prayer, the response to prayer; these are all things Jesus Christ taught about.  Jesus not only taught about them but He practiced them as well.  We see in His words, His thoughts, His deeds just how much we can learn from Him.

In the first instance above in Matthew; this portion of the lesson follows the very famous, oft quoted: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you.  Jesus juxtaposes the limitations and evil intentions of those created to the perfect loving, without limitations, Father.  If we, who are flawed, still want to do good by our own children when they ask or are in need, then why would we doubt that He who is perfect would do even better for His children?

In the next example cited in Luke; Jesus is also teaching about prayer.  He starts out the lesson about praying continually and not losing heart.  In His example, the widow is praying to a judge who is neither particularly wise or just.  The scripture tells us that the judge fears neither God nor man.  Normally the judge would have nothing to do with this poor widow and at first declines her request.  Yet the widow keeps coming back and through her persistence, compels the judge to administer justice on her behalf. Jesus goes on to make the point that God will also definitely avenge those of His who are wronged.  Jesus states that God has patience and mercy but will not be slow.  Though Jesus Christ asks this final question:  “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”.

Two amazingly powerful lessons in and of themselves.  But put these two lessons together and they become a life altering and faith affirming message.  Because maybe it’s only me, I know that there is power in prayer, I know that I have read about and seen prayers answered in amazing ways.  Yet I also know that I have found myself praying for something specific (maybe about this blog site or books that I’ve written) and how quickly I desire a response as well as how quickly, if I don’t feel the response is coming, I give up praying for it.  In a way, I find myself answering my own prayer in how quickly I give up the idea of praying on its behalf.

Now do understand that this is not the same as receiving an answer that I just don’t agree with.  The first lesson tells me whatever Our Heavenly Father responds with, is exactly what is best, what is perfect for me; no less has been provided and no more is needed.  Yet the second lesson tells me that God is always listening; that God has His timing and that it is a faithful thing for me to do, to continue petition Him for those things I believe He has laid on my heart.

The enemy would try to convince us otherwise.  The enemy would try to convince us that God does not listen to us; He is too busy, He is too uncaring, He is too judgemental to answer any request that we have.  Second, Satan would have us believe, if at first a prayer seems unheard then don’t, don’t pray it again.  Satan would have us believe that to pray for something a second time is actually an act of faithlessness instead of an act of faith.

So again, Jesus Christ gives us a life affirming message for us to live by.  Our Father in Heaven wants us to have a relationship with Him where we will come to Him and ask; seek and knock.  Our Father in Heaven does not find fault when we ask for something repeatedly, assuming we do so in the faith that Our Father will act in His time; that His will be done.  The repeated prayer does a couple of things.  First, it keeps us focused on what we believe God has put on our heart.  Second, it reaffirms our faithful belief that God hears our prayers and will answer them.  That is a lesson that can keep you and I centered on the right path, utilizing the right resource, relying on the real truth and living the better life.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are thankful and awe inspired that You the Creator of all things would allow us to make and truly listen to the petitions we ask of You.  Help us to have the faith to not fear to bring our heart’s desire to You.  Thank you Father, that in Your Mercy, You are not angered by our repeated petitions and in fact find faith in those.  Forgive us Father when we find ourselves doubting that You will even listen to us or believe we should give up if Your answer is not immediate.  That in Your timing and Your answers we would be filled with thanksgiving and praise.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

“‘Come’, he said”  Matthew 14:29

Jesus Christ was in His element.  He had just preached His Father’s word to a great crowd.  He had just fed them, 5000 and more with five loaves and two fish.  He sent His disciples on ahead as He blessed and dismissed the crowd.  And now it was time for Him to go back to His disciples.  So He walked to them.  You see this is the One who was there at creation.  This is the One, John tells us, Who was there at the beginning; that through Him all things were made.  So it was very natural, having made all things, that Jesus was in control of all things.  So, for Him, it was not a miracle to walk on the water that He, Himself had a part in creating.  It was His element to control.  So as Jesus approaches the boat where the disciples sat and looked upon Him with great fear; He very naturally tells them to have no fear.  It is natural for the Son of God to be doing this.  But here is one of the most important points.  Peter asks to be with Jesus, in His element.  He asks to walk on water, himself.  Now Jesus could have said: “Peter, this is not the element for you.  You are not the Son of God.  You were made for the boat so that is where you must stay. (In other words, you were made from this world so you must stay in this world) No, Jesus invites Peter to come, to come into His element.  And Peter does, Peter enters into the element of Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and Peter also walks on water.

Alas, Peter doesn’t stay in Jesus’ element.  Why?  Jesus tells us why in the very first parable that He teaches with.  It is the parable of the Sower.  You see dear Sisters and Brothers, we have an enemy.  We have a spirit of darkness who loathes that, through Jesus Christ, we can enter in the element of God, Our Heavenly Father.  Satan will try all things to stop us from entering into that element.  Jesus Christ, the Sower, sows the Word.  Satan comes and hardens some hearts and makes them like stone.  So the Word can have not the slightest effect on them.  However, should their/our hearts be receptive, Satan doesn’t stop there.  He brings persecution and condemnation because of the Word.  The world calls the people who will listen, stupid, delusional, losers and some can not withstand the persecution and they leave the element of the Word.  Yet some, withstand the persecution and Satan does not give up (and this is what happens to Peter).  For now Satan brings all of the world that he can against them.  Satan will bring worry about life, storms, not having shelter, making a paycheck, having an illness against us.  If that doesn’t work, Satan tries the other route, he can make us worldly successful, where the cares and pride of maintaining that success, cloud our thoughts and block the Power of the Word and it is not fruitful.  Peter sees the wind and the waves of this world and they block him from Jesus and he starts to sink.

But, Praise be to God the Father Almighty, through Jesus Christ the Son and to the Holy Spirit that testifies to the Word in us, Satan does not have the last word.  For Jesus Christ is there.  He lifts Peter back up and the Word becomes mighty in Peter, who becomes the “Good Soil” and produces a crop “thirty, sixty and even a hundred times what is sown”.  Jesus Christ is never defeated.  One might look at Saul as one of the “first soil”.  For Saul had heard the Word of Jesus Christ and it had no impact on him.  He persecuted the Word and all who believed in it.  But Jesus Christ came to Saul and overpowered Satan within him.  He turned Saul into Paul, a man of “Good Soil” and Paul reaped a great harvest.

So it is dear Sisters and Brothers, that Jesus Christ calls to each of us to come into His Element, the Element of Our Heavenly Father.  He asks us to seek, He asks us to knock, He asks us to ask.  Know when we do those things that Satan will come against us.  Satan will do everything in his power to keep us from the Element of Jesus Christ.  Christ knew this; Our Heavenly Father knew this.  They both knew that, on our own, we had no power to defeat Satan and enter into the Element.  So Our Heavenly Father sent His Son to do what we could not.  Jesus Christ through His victorious death and resurrection once and for all defeats Satan and opens up the path for us to enter into the Element of our Heavenly Father.  May it be that through the Holy Spirit that is given to us, we will find the path, we will enter into the Element, that when the defeated Satan still tries to defeat and dissuade us and we indeed stumble, that through prayer and repentance, we will call upon the One, Jesus Christ who is victorious every time for all times, to bring us into that same victorious Element.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise Your Most Holy Name that You have seen fit to invite us to be in Your Element.  Thank You Dear Father that to make that possible, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ, first into our element.  Forgive us when we stray from you either through hardened hearts, fear of persecution or worldly concerns.  Through Your Holy Spirit, bring us back to You, through and in the power of Your Once and Forever victorious Son, Jesus Christ.  That our lives may be in Your Element and thus be lives of Praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“If you then, being 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 7:11

As we explore this topic, perhaps we should first come to some consensus concerning what exactly a gift is.  If you’ve read any of my other posts (and a sincere thank you if you have), you know I tend to jump right on to look for standard definitions.  So some of the concepts they choose in their definition of gift are voluntary, no expectation of a return gesture, freely given.

I take the Wednesday paper.   That I go out in the morning and it is there is not a gift.  I expect it in return for the payment that I make and there is a requirement that it be there.  I go out on Thursday and there is the morning paper.  This I didn’t request.  This I didn’t pay for (nor am later subsequently billed for), freely given.  If it continued day after day, I would say it was a mistake; maybe a new delivery person, but it does not.  It is a gift.

I have a dog.  We take walks together.  Given the size and power of the dog I am not going to make a claim concerning who exactly walks who.  It’s kind of a mutual determination kind of thing.  Anyway, as we walk a person down the street who I’m not acquainted with other than a wave now and then is mowing his yard next to the sidewalk.  My neighbor would not know this, but my dog is not all that fond of machinery or at least the loud sound of lawn mower.  So I can either move across the street in adequate distance ahead of time, be drug across the street if I wait too long, or come to a complete halt no matter what I try until the lawn mower leaves.  But none of that happens.  My neighbor not only stops mowing the strip between the sidewalk and the curb but completely shuts off the lawn mower.  My dog and I quickly and serenely pass by with a thank you for his gesture; his gift.

My point?  Well for one, both of these are small things I know, but I would submit to you that they happen more often than we think; the cup of coffee purchased by a coworker, the stranger that let’s us in line in front of them, the person who stops to help us pick up some dropped papers etc.  Ironically, sometimes we avoid or feel bad about accepting these gifts.  Can I trust the person?  Why would they do that?  I don’t want to owe anyone, anything.

Additionally, often these “gifts” come from people we know; family members, coworkers, friends.  And that is why we sometimes miss the fact that they even happened.  “Oh, that’s just the way so and so is.”, we tell ourselves after they’ve given up their seat for us the thousandth time or given us their last piece of gum.  Somehow it turns from a gift to an expectation.

Jesus is trying to make a point.  He has been teaching the multitudes in His famous sermon on the mount.  It started out with the beatitudes and has now come to the point about approaching God.  Some would have said that you can’t approach God directly.  Some would have said that you have to go through someone else; a Pharisee or other leader in the temple. Still others would say you have to be good first; rich, powerful, famous, then you can approach God.  Jesus has just finished exhorting everyone; all you need to do is knock, ask and/or seek and there will be opening, granting, finding.  Christ goes on to make an illustration that drives the point home.  You and I can be evil.  You and I can decide to be selfish, stingy, hurtful people.  Yet even You and I can sometimes be generous.  You and I can help a loved one when they are in need.  If You and I, who can be evil, still know how to give good gifts, do good deeds for one another; how much more will our Heavenly Father, who knows no evil, who’s very nature is only Love and Generosity shower us with blessings if we will only approach Him and ask.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ tells us Our Heavenly Father is waiting.  He is waiting patiently.  Why is He waiting you might ask?  Why not shower His gifts upon us right now?  For one, I believe it is pure wisdom.  You see in waiting for us to ask, and in our asking, we have to acknowledge that that we believe in Him, we acknowledge His existence and power.  If we didn’t believe in Him; we’d never ask in the first place.  How quick we might be to misguidedly attribute God’s blessings to fate, luck or our own abilities if we didn’t first humbly come to Him and ask.

It’s not my words; it’s His.  It is not my promise; but His.  Our Heavenly Father never says what He doesn’t mean; never makes a promise He won’t keep.  Seek Him and His Gifts.  Go to Him in prayer, both seeking and praising.  He is Good.  His gifts are Good. He is waiting to give.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; thank you that You open Yourself and Your abundance to us, asking only that we will come to You, in faith and ask.  Give us the spirit of humility that we come to You and ask; not out of a sense of deserving, but out of the sense of lost without You.  Forgive our doubting nature, believing as we do that there must be a catch.  Fill us with a desire to rightly praise Your Most Holy Name for the abundance, generosity and perfection of Your gifts freely given.  We pray this in the Name of the Greatest Gift of all, Your Son Jesus Christ, given to us for our salvation.  Amen

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