Friday, December 10, 2021
7-11 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?
12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets, and this is what you get.
-Matthew 7:7-12 The Message
Prayer and the Golden Rule
Verse 7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Verse 8: For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.
Verses 7-8 studies: Jesus tells us to be persistent in pursuing God. What hurts people the most in seeing God work is only after a few half-hearted efforts in asking, seeking, and knocking is where most of us conclude that God can’t be found. But if you know and understand God, you will see that it takes faith, focus, and following through, and Jesus assures us we will be rewarded. So continue to ask him for knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding, and he will give them to you.
Verse 9: Or what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone?
Verse 10: Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
Verses 9-10 studies: The example given in these two verses, the child asking his Father for bread and fish is good and necessary. It is a need, not a want. It’s part of the four basics of living. Now, the child also asked for a poisonous snake. Ask yourself, would the Father grant this request? God knows he was praying for snakes, for God does not give him what he asked for, even though he was persistent in prayer. This is why it is good to learn to know God as a loving Father. We understand what is good for us, and then he grants it.
Verse 11: So if you, despite 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!
Verse 11 study: Christ in this verse shows us the heart of God the Father. God is not selfish, begrudging, or stingy. We don’t have to beg when we come with our requests. He is a loving Father who understands, cares, and comforts. If we took the time to be kind, imagine how God, the Creator of kindness, can be.
Jesus used the expression, “If you then, being evil” to contrast sinful and fallible human beings with the holy and perfect God.
Verse 12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Verse 12 study: This verse is known as the Golden Rule. It is stated negatively in other religions as “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.” Jesus made this more positive and significant. It’s not hard to refrain from harming others; it is more challenging to take the initiative in doing something good for them. The Golden Rule is what Jesus formulated. It is the foundation of active goodness and mercy, the kind of love God shows to us every day. Think of a good and merciful action you can take today.
Father, let us remember the Golden Rule as Jesus taught it and not as other religions know it. It is your formula for our success. Without that, there is no other way to apply the Golden Rule. This is why knowing you and having a relationship with you is essential. In Jesus’ name. Amen!