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Monday, February 5, 2024

Ask, Seek, Knock

As we transition from the sacrament of infant baptism, a symbol of new beginnings and divine promise, we're reminded of our own spiritual journey. Baptism invites us into a life of asking, seeking, and knocking, a theme we'll explore further in today's sermon.  Open your hearts to the transformative power of faith as we remember the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount and consider how they speak to us at every stage of our spiritual journey.

Slides – Matthew 7:7-11
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Ask, Seek, Knock
Jesus says:  Ask, Seek, Knock.  When it comes to the most important things in life—like your goals, your dreams, your family, your physical and spiritual well-being—you have to have humility, commitment, and persistence.  God requires it for the deepest blessings of His Kingdom.  It’s not because God is stingy.  He wants to reward you.  But your cannot handle the deepest blessings of God’s Kingdom” until you are ready for them.  Asking, seeking, knocking prepares you to receive what God wants to give you.

Wise parents do the same thing with their kids.  They don’t just give whatever their kids ask for.  Just because your 7-year-old son wants to drive a car, you don’t let them.  You might set them in your lap and let them drive around an empty parking lot for fun, but a 7-year-old is not ready to drive on their own yet.

Good parents encourage their kids to persist and develop and prove they are responsible before they give them something for which they aren't ready.

Fred Stokes
I’m pumped about our guest speaker for Super Bowl Sunday next week.  Fred Stokes, is a former defensive end who played for the Washington Redskins (now known as the Washington Commanders).  His life exemplifies Jesus lesson about asking, seeking, and knocking.  Fred grew up in poverty in rural Georgia and faced numerous challenges early in life. This fueled his desire to ask God for a better life and success.

Stokes went to college at Georgia Southern University.  He was not a highly touted prospect for the NFL, but he sought to improve, to make his mark, and to achieve his dream, despite the odds being against him.

Stokes was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the twelfth round of the 1987 NFL Draft. However, his early years in the NFL were marked by injuries and limited playing time. But He didn’t give up.  He persistently “knocked” at the door success despite the setbacks.

Stokes' perseverance paid off when he joined the Washington Redskins. He became an integral part of the team's defense and played a key role in their 1992 Super Bowl victory. The door of success finally opened for him.  Stokes' journey from a challenging childhood to a Super Bowl champion is a testament to determination, hard work, and faith. It illustrates how asking for a better life, seeking it through relentless effort, and knocking on the doors of opportunity, despite obstacles, can lead to success and fulfillment.

Jesus said “Keep on asking…”  Asking emphasizes humility.  We ask for help.  It’s a recognition that we need something.  We don’t know how to do something.  We are lost and need directions.  We’re not strong enough.  We’re worried and need peace and comfort.  And so we have to ask for help.  I hate to ask for help.  I’ve always been very independent and I just want to be able to do it myself—and I can do most things myself.  But Jesus has taught me over the years to get over it.  I need to ask for help.  He has a sense of humor too, because He made me a pastor and it’s my job to ask people for help…  God wants to give you deeper blessings than you can even imagine.  So, keep on asking.

Jesus said, “Keep on seeking.”  You’ve got to get out there and do your part to actively pursue God’s will and wisdom.  It's not just about finding answers but about growing closer to God.  It is often as we seek and pursue God that we build the spiritual muscles we need to hold the blessing God intends to give us. 

Jesus said, “Keep on knocking.”  Knocking represents persistence in our spiritual pursuit.  Don’t give up if the door doesn’t open right away.  Keep on knocking.

Have you ever had that awkward moment when you go to someone’s house and knock on the door and they don’t answer right away.  I used to deliver pizzas back before everyone had GPS.  You would get the address, look on a map, and then go out to find the house and deliver the pizza.  Sometimes the address wasn't clearly marked on a house.  You might be 95% sure it was the right house, but you would knock on the door and not know until someone answered the door.  Sometimes you had to knock two or three times before the came to the door.  It was awkward, but you couldn't just leave. Your job was to keep knocking until your delivered the pizza to the right person.  When it comes to the blessings of God's Kingdom, you have to keep on knocking with that same persistent determination.  It is good to know that Jesus is knocking on your door too.  In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears me and opens the door, I will come in and we will share a meal together."

God is a Good, Good Father
Jesus calls God our Heavenly Father, and compares Him to our earthly parents.  Most earthly parents—even the poorest examples—know how to give good gifts to their kids.  They feed them, shelter them, clothe them.  Although people are flawed and sinful, our heavenly Father is perfect love and full of wisdom and power.  He knows what we need before we even ask and has all the power of the universe at His disposal.  He will bless you, but you must get ready first.  So keep on asking, seeking, knocking so you will be ready.

Slide – Holy Communion with Guided Meditation
We had the privilege of sharing the sacrament of Holy Communion at my church Sunday.   Here is a meditation I guided them through.  Perhaps this will be useful for your too.
Relax with your eyes open and contemplate the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Breathe deeply as we rest in God’s grace.  Inhale peace.  Exhale any distractions.
Reflect on the grace of Jesus' invitation to us, an invitation to ask, to seek, to knock.

On the night Christ gave Himself up for us,
He shared His last meal with the Disciples before the crucifixion.

The Bread:  He took the bread, broke it, and asked the Lord to bless it.
Then He gave it to His Disciples and said, “Take and eat.  This is my body given for you.”
In the quiet of this sacred time, present your requests to God.
Ask Him for what you need.
Let the bread of Holy Communion remind you of God's readiness to provide everything you need.

The Cup:  After the meal, Jesus took the cup, raised it to heaven, and asked the Lord to bless it.
He gave it to His disciples and said,
“This is my blood, which confirms the New Covenant between God and His people. 
It is poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins."
Take a moment to meditate on what it means to seek God.
Imagine yourself drawing closer to the heart of Jesus,
seeking His wisdom and presence in every aspect of your life.

Receiving:  Envision yourself knocking on the door of God’s kingdom.
Feel the door of God’s blessings opening to you, inviting you into a deeper communion with Christ.

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