Tuesday, August 30, 2016

30 August 2016
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (NRSV)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7 (NRSV)

“For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NRSV)

            Good morning; welcome. Well, we are coming at last to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is about to introduce the final set of instructions and warnings concerning our relationship with others, fidelity to Kingdom teaching, discernment in future things and the importance of actually doing the Father’s will. Before He begins He offers words of encouragement and caution. Be diligent. Keep on asking, keep on searching, keep on knocking. The Father hears and will respond. Jesus is inviting us to follow Him; to continually seek the proper direction, the ancient way, as the prophet put it. He is inviting to ask for the Father’s guidance; seeking to understand His ways, to knock on the door of His heart to be received into His fellowship.
            Note the progression here. First we ask for basic direction-Kingdom principles. Having received something, we search out an application-how can we weave this into the fabric of our lives; how will it work its way out in our daily living. Finally, as we grow in grace and understanding, we have confidence to enter the Father’s presence with Joy and gladness. This is a place where just being with the Father is enough. Then the cycle begins again, an upward spiral of growth and transformation, what theologians call sanctification. This is how we glorify God and enjoy Him forever, as the Catechism says.
            Once again we see Jesus arguing from lesser to greater. If we know how to give good gifts to our children-if we know the difference between a loaf of bread and a stone, between a fish and a snakeskin, how much more will our Father know what to give us? We must be careful here not to misinterpret Jesus’ words. This is not a proof text for a prosperity gospel or a guarantee of personal success. This has to do with seeking the Kingdom first, with searching out the Father’s will.
            It also has to do with perseverance; doing our due diligence. Not just perseverance in prayer, but in all those things which help us understand the Kingdom living. This is us placing ourselves where grace can reach us and transform us; a call to discipleship. Prayer, fasting, study, service, worship-all the disciplines we have discussed and many we have not require perseverance if we are to be properly transformed into Christ-likeness. For sure we will be tested; we will stumble; we will fail. Our failings themselves become occasions for growth. God is with us in our failures and He is with us in our successes.
            So, as we prepare for the final push, try picking one thing or two to diligently peruse. It may be guidance on a particular issue or understanding of a cloudy scripture passage or how to handle a difficult relationship. Stick with it until something comes. Do not be discouraged if nothing comes right away. Perhaps nothing will come at all, just a growing sense that that particular thing should not be pursued, at this time. Share your experiences, whenever you can. After all, we are setting examples here, demonstrating Kingdom behavior. Diligently seek the Father and His Kingdom; whatever you receive, share with others.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. JRG

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