A Promise-Keeping God, Pt. 2
May 02, 2021
1. True prayer reacts to what God wants and is not God reacting to what we want (vv 7-8)
a. Not pragmatic-based
b. Not precision-based
c. Is Providence-based
This week: Part 2
Again, “How is Jesus’ making an authentic promise, when he does not always give us what we ask for?
2. True prayer means God defines what is good for our lives (vv. 9-11)
Your prayer life begins and ends with your perception of God. “Is He Good?”
- Your perception always determines how you will relate to him.
AW Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ...
- He is good and has your best interests at heart.
- Knows what is best for you.
- This perspective is difficult to keep when life gets harder.
“How did the Jews of Jesus’ day understand God within a world of pain?”
- They related to God in a corporate sense.
- God being detached on a personal level.
- God, followed through obeying the law.
- God, empty of intimacy.
- In fact, God called “Father” was new, especially in terms of intimacy.
- Father as a name for God was new.
- Packer said, “Father” was the Christian name for God.
The Greek and Roman community made up mythology where God or the gods were whimsical or capricious, impulsive or unpredictable.
The pantheon of gods took on human characteristics being larger than life versions of the human condition.
It was said that Zeus pulled a fast on when Aurora the goddess of dawn fell in love with a mortal youth named Tithonus. She begged he be granted to live forever and Zeus granted this request but with the proviso that he be doomed to an eternity of aging.
God is not like this because God is good and works with his children in terms of what is best for them.
- Jesus explains this with two hypotheticals.
- In verse 9, Jesus makes this personal by asking, “Or which one of you” followed by the scenario “…if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?”
- Trust God as a father who will never intentionally give their son something that will harm them.
- A son asking for bread is the same as a son telling his father about any real need.
- Bread is more than something the son would enjoy; this is sustenance.
- Remember, Jesus, prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread” (cf. Matt. 6:11) and “What shall we eat?” (cf. Matt. 6:31).
- Much for than making demands from God.
- Or, delivering commands in the name of God, the posture of prayer is dependence.
- The problem comes when God provides in a way that you did not expect or even want.
- “I asked for bread and this feels more like a stone.”
- “Or I asked for a fish and you gave me a serpent.”
- God keeps his promise to provide but does so in however he chooses.
- I need something to eat to survive.
- You give me something that looks it bites or could kill me.
This could be harder Christian persecution.
- Jesus is saying, your perspective on God needs correcting!
A real temptation in life is to doubt God’s love; because you do not receive exactly what you are asking for.
- What he has determined is best for you.
Back to James 1, the early church dealing with rising persecution moved from doubting God to accusing God to blaming God for causing them to sin!
- God was the catalyst for their sin.
ESV James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
- They blamed God not themselves for their own sin!
- Life is so tough that I am going to lay the blame for my angry spirit at God’s feet.
- James counteracts this, like Jesus, by defending God’s character.
ESV James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
- Jesus is primarily speaking to the issue of trusting God’s goodness.
- God’s agenda is higher than mere, physical provision.
The immediate context of Matthew 7:1-6 argues that God is working on our Judgmentalism.
- God is good because he wants our holiness.
Verse 11 is striking, “If you then, who are evil” (v. 11).
Jesus pulls no punches with verse 11, reminding his audience of their spiritual condition.
- Saying this was as counter-cultural then as it would be today.
- Man is depraved and unless completely sober, he or she will deny it.
- When we are honest with ourselves, we see our morally detestable condition.
- Even so, man is made in the image of God and because of common grace, will give good gifts to his children.
- This is natural.
Clarity is built on the contrast between human fatherhood versus heaven’s Fatherhood.
- “We care about our children as sinners, so how much more does God who is sinless.”
Our “Father who is in heaven” speaks to his holiness being in direct contrast to our being “evil” (v. 11).
So, “Why is God’s holiness to our benefit?”
- God’s holiness creates unspeakable distance, between ourselves and God.
- Yet, God’s holiness creates the opposite effect.
- Our intuition may tell you to withdraw from God, rather than draw near.
- What makes heaven confusing.
- We all want to go there but cannot reconcile how sinners will fit in.
- Confusion is clarified when we remember the context of God’s goodness.
Yes, God’s holiness is dreadful because it mirrors our sinfulness back to him.
- At the same time, God’s holiness stands for his unchanging nature.
- This makes his promises unchanging!
- He who will never leave or forsake us.
- His perfections make his love steady and unbreakable.
- Never a whimsical God who gives and takes commitments to love, sporadically. No!
So we remember, God so loved the world that he gave his only son.
- Nothing separates us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
- We know we are saved by the grace of God.
- Adopted by God’s love.
- Made new.
- Still, we doubt God’s love toward us.
Holiness is what creates an incredible disparity between our sinfulness and God's perfection and yet this same holiness, creating that same disparity is the very reason God continues to bless us even when we are sinful. God’s holiness is why he will never forsake us. God is faithful because God cannot deny himself. Which means he cannot be anything but faithful to you.
God’s holiness demands we acknowledge, “…how much more will your Father…give!” (v. 11).
- Do not miss the final designation for those whom this promise applies, “…to those who ask him!” (v. 11).
- Not predicated on pragmatics.
- “If you will but ask, then God’s hand will be forced to react!”
- This is a clear designation for believers.
- True believers ask, seek, and knock because they know God as “Father.”
- They experience life in view of his many generous provisions.
- His love and his gifts.
- You do not know exactly what God will give you but understand God’s goodness!
As a parent of six, I have learned that when a child asks for something, I want to provide. Sometimes the request is exactly what I believe I should give him or her and so I give it. Sometimes, I am not exactly sure whether it is the right timing or the right thing to do so I counsel my young person to wait. To see beyond my wisdom and to pursue God as the ultimate provider. God’s timing and will is perfect and he is far more trustworthy than I am. Bear in mind that this passage was geared mostly to adults and that because life with God is really no more complicated than how a good parent relates to his son or daughter.
“Why is God the perfect promise keeper?”
- Because he fulfills every promise he makes.
- All according to his has plan.
- We respond to Him, not the reverse.
- God gives according to how He defines “good.”
- What is good for our lives.
Ask, seek, and knock in view of God’s providence. Live yielded to God’s good providence.