7540 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy Dallas, TX 75251
Streaming Sunday 9:00 AM and 11:15 AM
8000 Western Hills Blvd Fort Worth, TX 76108
Streaming Sunday 9:00 AM and 11:15 AM
6401 Parkwood Blvd Frisco, TX 75034
Streaming Sunday 9:00 AM and 11:15 AM
6400 K Ave Plano, TX 75074
Streaming Sunday 9:00 AM and 11:15 AM
Listen in as JP teaches through Matthew 7:7-12. He explains to us that God is a good Father who only gives good gifts. In response, we should ask persistently, seek the good in what He has given us, and seek the good of others as our Father does.
Something Sweet out of the Ingredients of Sadness
Why Good Leaders Have Always Written Letters to the Church They Love
All In With Jesus
Outrunning Your Past
Faith in Work
Following Jesus: How He Changes Your Place, People & Priorities - Luke 9:57-62
Our Purpose in Life
Healing, Hearing, and the Hope of the Gospel
Money, Stuff, and Eternity
Living the Word
An Audience of One
Mother's Day Message
A Biblical Perspective on the Value and Role of Women in Ministry
Baptism Celebration 2016
Sabbath: God's Solution to the Addiction of Busyness
Inside Out Church
Awaken the Hope of the World
An Evening with the Elders
Easter: The Greatest Evidence That God Is Real, Good, Powerful and Trustworthy
Good Friday 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Good morning, Dallas and Plano. It's great to be with you guys. If you're listening on summer vacation, it's great to be with you here at Watermark. About a year ago, the guys in my small group and I had a little guys' night out. On our guys' night out, we ate way too much barbecue. We gorged ourselves on barbecue. Don't email me on gluttony. I know it's not right.
We went to Bishop Arts, and we loaded up on some barbecue. Afterwards, we were walking around and trying to find something guys do in Bishop Arts, and we walked up on this place called Dude, Sweet Chocolate. I didn't name it. Don't ask. Anyway, we go in. I love chocolate. If we know each other… I'm a big fan.
As we went in, I asked the person who was working there, "What's your favorite item?" They walked me over to this little truffle, and you can try the stuff there. They grab this little truffle and slice it up. It's just a little piece, and they cut it up. "Here, try this." I try it. "Wow! If heaven had a taste, that would be it. That is incredible. I want some of that. Put that over there."
We got that and continued to walk around, and we walked up on this chocolate bar in a red package. We said, "What's this?" They said, "Oh, that's this chocolate infused with this pepper. Have you ever had a habanero? It's this pepper we import from Japan that's hotter than a habanero." I'm like, "Well, we've got to get that. We're a bunch of dudes. We have to figure this out."
I get one of those chocolates infused with some Japanese pepper hotter than a habanero and a truffle, and I'm on my way. I go home, set the bag out on the counter, wake up the next day, and my two little girls, Presley and Finley, are circling around like vultures. They see chocolate on the bag, and they say, "Daddy, what's that?" I'm like, "That's some chocolate I got."
"Daddy, can we have some?"
"Yes, you can. Yes. I'm a good dad. Come sit around. No, no, get the chocolate truffle."
I looked them in the eyes and said, "I thought about you girls when I bought this. I tasted it last night. It's amazing. You're going to love it." I set it out, get the cutting board, slice it up into little pieces of chocolate, and give them each one. They see everything that's there, and Presley, my oldest, says, "Dad, is this what I can have?" "Yes, you can have it." She takes it, tastes it, and says, "Oh, wow, that's good."
Finley, my younger one, says, "I want that." "You want what?" "I want the red chocolate. I don't really like dark chocolate, Daddy. I want the red one." I'm like, "Finley, girl, you don't want that." "No, Daddy, I do. I want that one." I'm like, "Hey, listen, you don't want that one. That's not the one you want. Last night, I tasted this truffle. I know it looks like dark chocolate, but it's really sweet. You're going to absolutely love it. Just try this one." "No, Daddy, I want that one."
Here we go. "Finley, the choice is yours. You can try either of these chocolates. You can try whichever one you want, but I, as a daddy who loves you very much, am telling you that you do not want that one. You want this one." Before I even finished the sentence, she's tearing into the package.
She takes a bite out of the habanero, hotter-than-a-Japanese-pepper chocolate, and she tastes it. At first, she just tastes the chocolate, and she's looking at her sister who got ripped off with her little bitty piece of a truffle. She's just smiling and happy. She got the chocolate. It doesn't take long before she runs over to the sink like a cartoon and begins to splash the water into her mouth. "It's hot!"
I was like, "Ahh. I'm a good dad. I don't want to say, 'I told you so,' but…" The whole time, Presley is like, "This is going to be a sermon illustration. I've been here. I'm not even playing this game. He says this one; I'm going this one." She's been around me longer. She's seen the way these things go down. "I know you think you know what you want, but I have a greater perspective. I know things you may not be able to see."
This is what God says to us. "I know you think you know the good you want, and I know you ask for these things. I know you have something in mind you think is best, but I have an eternal perspective. I see eternity past and eternity future. I know better than you, and here's the crazy part: You can trust me."
This morning, I want to talk about our response to a good Father. This idea that God in heaven is a good Father is the metaphor given to us over and over to define our relationship to him. What is our response to him in prayer, how we go to him? What does that look like? I think the most unloving thing we can do this morning toward God is to doubt his love for us.
I would rather my children say, "I hate you, Daddy," than to say, "Daddy, I don't think you love me." I would rather them question their love for me than question my love for them. I believe the most unloving thing we can do to God this morning is to bring into question his love for us, that God is crazy about us.
I've seen so many people doubt the love of God when they begin to go through difficult things, when they get something that's not what they asked for, and when they didn't see what it was. When they received it, they began to call into question God's goodness. While I appreciate their view of his sovereignty, that he controls everything, I'm questioning their view of his character. God is a good Father who gives good gifts to his children, and if what you have isn't good, then he's not done. If what you have from him is not good, then he's still working. He's not done.
I'm going to be in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 if you want to turn there. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about this land he's from. He's talking about the kingdom, and he's telling us what it's like in this kingdom. Here in this particular section, verses 7-12, he's going to tell us about the King of this kingdom.
You have to know how you approach the King. "Do I go in before him? Do I bow down and say, 'Hello, Your Majesty'? Am I awkward? What do I do with my hands? How do I approach the King of this kingdom?" Jesus tells us, "You approach him like he's a loving dad, and you're his child." He's telling us how to approach the King of this kingdom.
"Can I ask him for chocolate? Is he going to throw it at me? Is he going to give me the wrong one or trick me or is he going to tell me what's good? Is he going to receive me? Is he eager to listen? What is our relationship like?"
In the first section, 7-8, we're going to look at how we ask God for things. In that second section, 9-11, we're going to talk about who we're asking. In that last verse, verse 12, we're going to talk about how God might use us as he answers the requests of others.
1._ How we ask God for things._ In verse 7, Jesus says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." It says the same thing twice: Ask, seek, knock.
In the Greek here, the verb tense is present imperative. In fact, in your Amplified Bible, if you have one, it says, "Ask, and keep on asking. Seek, and keep on seeking. Knock, and don't stop knocking." My first point from this text is to ask with persistence. You say, "It doesn't say that in the simple reading of the text."
Jesus actually expounds on this idea where he says the exact same thing in Luke 11. He's giving a very similar (possibly the same) sermon in Luke 11, and he says this story to expound on this command to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, and knock and keep on knocking. He says this:
"Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.' And suppose the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need."
He does that because you were crazy enough to knock at midnight, and to keep on knocking. Is Jesus saying God is withholding good from you unless you ask a magic number of times, and then he's going to come and give that good to you? No, he's saying to keep on asking. The point Jesus is making to you in this text is God, your Father in heaven, wants you to ask him. So why don't we ask him? It's like we're afraid of bothering him or we won't know the right way or we're going to ask for the wrong things.
Right about now I've had this conversation with a few people. It's house appraisal times in Dallas, and that means some people's housing tax appraisals have gone up. They have to go before this board, and I have friends who have never done that before. I've had this conversation a few times: "Hey, what do I wear? What is it like? Do I need to put on a suit? Are they going to be mean? What do I need to ask them? What do I need to take with me…pictures, letters?" Has anybody ever done this? Some of you have.
If you've never done it before, you sit on this side of that opportunity. It's like, "Man, I don't know. It's awkward. I don't really know how this is going to go down." That's how some of us approach God. "Do I need to say, 'In Jesus' name?' Do I ask for what I want and then say, 'But thy will be done'? What is the magic equation? How can I bring superstition into this?"
Jesus is just saying, "Listen, listen. Let's not make this complicated." Ask him. "God, this is what I want. This is what I'd love for you to do. This is how I'm struggling right now." The point Jesus is making here is to ask him. He's saying not to worry about bothering him. Ask in any way, and don't worry about asking for the wrong thing. Start there. Just be real. Ask, and keep on asking. Keep knocking.
Come to God, not like he's the Dallas County Appraisal District. Come to God like you his child, and he's your father, because kids don't care. My kids will come into my room at any time in the night. It's terrifying to wake up and be watched by a 3-year-old standing beside you. It's a terrifying thing.
Sometimes, Monica and I want a little privacy in there, so we'll lock the door on occasion, you know, to pray about our relationship. Here's what I've learned. My kids don't give a rip that that door is locked. They will come to that door at any time, at any hour of the day, and they will try to open it.
They'll jiggle that handle, then they'll begin to knock, and then they'll go, "Hey, Dad, the door is locked." I'm like, "I know it's locked. I locked it. What do you want right now?" I've learned they're not going away. They will stay out there. It's over, okay. Prayer time is over. I have to go answer the door. I'll be right back. Hopefully that's the laughter of familiarity for some of you.
Jesus is saying come to God like this, like a child. "God, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm asking you for what I want. Show me what you want, but I'm asking you for what I want, and I'm not even being careful. I'm not even playing mind games with you. I'm just being real. This is what I want. This is what's going on"
He's making this point that God is desperate for a relationship with you. Anytime someone says God is desperate, you should have a flag go up, but I'm telling you he's desperate for a relationship with you. The way I know it is he's gone to great lengths to get a relationship with you. Allowing his Son to die. He's gone to desperate measures, allowing Jesus to die on a cross, so he can have a relationship with you.
So ask, and he's saying God answers. He's saying God always answers prayers. His answers are yes or no or not now, but he's always listening, and he wants you to ask. Seek the answers. "Why might God not give me what I want?" Finley was persistent with what she wanted, but she didn't seek what I wanted for her. She was focused on what she wanted.
First John 5:14 says ask according to his will. I know some of us are like, "If God has a will, and he's only going to answer the prayers that are according to his will, then why would I ask in the first place if he's just going to do what he's going to do anyway? God's sovereign. I don't care." I think we think that's spiritual, and I'm telling you, that's lazy, not spiritual.
God here is saying, "I want you to come to me in the pursuit of a real relationship and ask me for what you want while seeking what I want. Ask me for what you want. You don't have to play these games with me." He's giving you permission to ask him for what you want. I think we think, "Well, I just want a low-maintenance relationship with God." There is no such thing as a low-maintenance relationship. Period.
Every now and then, some of my friends who are dating someone will come up and say, "Yeah, we're dating, and it's fantastic. It's a low-maintenance relationship." I'm like, "That's not a relationship." Relationships are high-maintenance. They require a lot of time together, investment, and communication. There's no such thing as a low-maintenance relationship.
Your relationship with God is no exception. He wants you to talk to him, converse with him, and communicate with him. There is no cruise control in Christianity. I think we think we're going to get to this place where we know God, shift into cruise, and just be okay for the rest of the rest. That's nowhere in the Bible. That kind of relationship with God does not exist. Jesus is saying to ask him.
Can I tell you what I pray for? Let me tell you. Are you ready for this? Whatever I want. That's what I pray for. If you have a prosperity gospel flag going off, listen. I'm asking him, "Show me what you want," but it's just a real conversation.
If 90 percent of my mind throughout the day is consumed with wanting a new car, and I'm obsessing about a new car, and then I go to God and say, "There are kids starving in Africa, God. Would you meet their needs?"… If I don't talk to him about the thing that has consumed 90 percent of my thoughts, that's not real.
"God, I want a new car. I don't even know if that's the right thing to want. Will you help me? I wish I were more concerned with the needs of others around me, but this is my desire. You see it. You know it. You see my thoughts, and you know the way I feel. You've given me permission to ask you. This is what I want. Would you show me what you want? Will you help me see what you want?"
Psalm 37:4 says, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart," but listen, if you delight in the Lord, he may change the desires of your heart. Be prepared for him to change the desires of your heart. You don't need to play games with him in prayer. That's what I want to give you permission to do as you leave here today. Do not play superstitious games with God in prayer. Just talk to him. "God, these are my desires."
My son, when he comes in at night, plays these games with me. I wake up, like "Whoa, what do you want?"
"I want a drink of water."
"No, you don't. You just don't want me to sleep. What do you really want? Are you scared?"
"Yeah, I'm scared."
"Oh, well just tell me you're scared. You don't have to hide behind a drink of water."
In the same way, we don't have to go to God and be like, "I want you to feed everyone on the planet." We can say, "This is what I want. Change my desires to what you want." Let's be real, because you won't grow if you don't do that. If you only ask for what you want without seeking what he wants, that's dumb. That's not going to allow you to grow. You're not going to progress through sanctification. He knows better than you what you need, and he wants you to ask.
2._ Who we're asking_. Verse 9: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
If you think God is out to get you, that's going to impact the way you go to him. This verse plainly says God desires to give you good things. You may be in a place where it's like, "Why is he holding out on that chocolate bar? He bought it. It's right there in a pretty red package." He says, "That's not good for you." I know you think you have wisdom greater than a 7-year-old, but you're not as far along as you may think you are.
My second point this morning is to seek the good in what he's given. He's a good Father who gives us good things, so seek the good in whatever he's given us. This passage talks about God and me, and it talks about God and you. My role in the passage is really clear. It says, "Though you are evil…" It doesn't even say, "Though you may be evil…" The assumption is you're evil. God is good, and he gives good things. You're evil, and think about the things you give your children.
To the parents in the room, do you not seek to give your kids good things all the time? Think about the silly things we do. "Let's go get ice cream." We probably wouldn't do that without them, right? "Let's go! It's ice cream day. Do you want a sundae, a banana split, or a blizzard? What do you want? Do you want to go to the park?" You would not go to the park in Texas in the summertime ever unless you had kids, right? You just wanted to see them smile. It's torture. No one would do that, but if you have kids, you'll do it. "I want to give you good things."
Some of you save money. You load up your kids in a car and take them to the blistering heat of Orlando, to a place where they worship a mouse, for no other reason than to see them giggle. If you, though you are evil, give these things to your kids, how much more does God want to give good to you?
I see some of you are like, "My dad never took me to Disney World, Disneyland, or even the park." You may have baggage with this idea that God is your Father, but I want to remind you God is not the reflection of your earthly father. He's the perfection of him. He's not like your fallen, evil dad. He's the perfect form of him, a version you may not even be aware exists. That's the role he plays, like a perfect dad.
He doesn't give snakes or stones. He can't. It's something God can't do. God can't give you a snake or a stone. In this fallen world, I know snakes and stones exist, but we seek out and keep on seeking the One who can make them fish and loaves. God will always answer your prayer with good. You may not realize it's good until you are with him in his kingdom forever, but I think when we get up there, we're all going to be like, "Oh. That's what you were doing. Now I see it. Now I understand what you were doing."
Let's talk real for a minute. My buddy on staff got married, and he and his wife get pregnant. There's a celebration. Somebody is on staff, and they're going to have a kid. Cue the streamers. Everybody clapped, "Yay, there's going to be a baby." Shortly thereafter, they returned from a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of trisomy 18. It's not compatible with life. "I have to carry this child full-term, nine months, and potentially deliver this baby, only to say, 'Goodbye.'" It's only a stone. It's only a snake. How can this be good?
These are my friends Daniel and Kelly, and their son Abel, whom Kelly carried for nine months. In the midst of that nine months, Daniel and I had a conversation, because I had heard him pray. I was studying this passage at the time, and I asked him, "Daniel, do you feel the freedom to ask God for a healthy son? Do you feel the freedom to ask God to heal this diagnosis, so it would be a misdiagnosis?"
He responded so honestly and beautifully in a way I think will minister to us this morning. He said, "Kind of." I mean, ask according to his will. I think that's so many of us. We're awkward around God. I don't see that in this text. I see, "God, I want to play baseball with him. I want to hold him, carry him, laugh with him, and watch him graduate eighth grade. I want to send him to college, God. That's what I want. Would you give me that, God? I do trust you."
It's not as an asterisk, not as this kind of theological… It is mixed. They're both there. Trust in the sovereignty of God, and trust what he's doing, but beg him. Knock, and keep on knocking. "This is what I want." That's what's there. Do you feel the freedom of that? Ask him for that. That's what fosters relationships. That's what moves you to a holy God.
It is my logic, my human, finite lack of wisdom, that says it doesn't seem God would want a baby to die in the womb or anywhere. I can think and play the narrative: "Maybe you're trying to spare him something later on or maybe you want to glorify yourself in some profound way. There's a greater good out there that I can't see past this scenario. It's theologically awkward and cumbersome, but I don't know, God. I trust you. Help me trust you."
It's my logic that cancer is bad, breakups are hard, and disease shouldn't be, and it is my understanding that, in a way that is not trite or cliché, but only true, he is going to make it all right. He's going to fix it in a way that outweighs eternally the cost of the experience here. I'm going to go philosophical with you for a moment. Humor me. It's helpful to me.
So often, we define good and bad by our feelings and emotions. If something makes us sad, it's bad. If something makes us happy, it's good. We're simple beings, honestly. It's like, "That's sad; that must be bad. That's happy; that must be good." Life is an emotional journey of ups and downs. It's a rollercoaster.
In the fallen world we live in, the first thing God does when he shows up is he wipes away the tears of humans. He takes us to a place where there is no sad; therefore, there is no bad, but here in this world, the spectrum of emotion is not bad. He's made you human. He's made you emotional beings so you might carry each other's burdens, love one another, and go through these things together.
We don't have to be terrified of him, because God, the giver of the gift, is going to make good of it. If the gift isn't good, God is not finished with it. That's what he's saying. If the gift we have isn't good, hold on. Hang on. To put weight on this, I hear people all the time say, "I would have never asked for this thing that the world would clearly see as a curse, and it has been the single greatest blessing in my life." I hear it all the time.
There was a man born with no arms or legs. His name is Nick Vujicic, if you know him. He said, "The greatest blessing God has ever given me, apart from Jesus Christ, was to allow me to be born with no arms or legs. Now I have one of the largest platforms in the world to proclaim the gospel to millions and millions of people. As I seek the Lord in my lacking, I see the blessing."
My friend had a son born with Down's syndrome. So many people would say, "You don't want to end the life of a child with Down's syndrome?" He would say, "Oh, my goodness. Noah, this baby boy, this growing child, has been the biggest blessing, apart from my relationship with Jesus Christ, in my life." These aren't platitudes. He's not saying this and not really feeling it. I've seen it first-hand. It's the greatest blessing in his life apart from Jesus. Fathers don't give snakes to kids, even when they ask for them.
Abel, Daniel's son, lived 15 days, and then he went home. He got healed completely, and the gospel, through his story, reached over 100,000 people. It's still reaching, still counting, as they were faithful to blog and tell this story. Stand for Life and Council for Life came in, and these organizations picked up the story and continued to communicate it. The story of Jesus now moves forward in the story of Abel.
I don't know if that's a good exchange in your mind. I know that's a terrible, heartless thing to ask. I understand the weight of the things I'm saying right now, but let me say this: I saw that mama stand right here on this stage, in this place, and say, "Let me tell you something. My God is good. This isn't the good I would have asked for, but he's good, and he's doing something. He's at work, and I trust him, and he's going to make good of this."
In the midst of learning this, it ministered to me. May it minister to you. If you checked out, if you're skeptical, let me ask this question. Do I have he audacity to say God can make good out of a son dying? Friends, don't you understand? God made the greatest good that has ever happened to you out of a son dying.
The greatest blessing in your life came from a son slowly being tortured and publicly humiliated in a square and dying. It is okay and fine and human to weep at the cross. God is not upset at you for weeping at the cross. He made you emotional. It's okay to experience sadness, sorrow, and mourning.
It's okay to weep at the cross, but be prepared to celebrate at the empty tomb, because that's coming. In the midst of your mourning, sadness, and despair, hold on to hope that God is a good Father who gives good to his children, and he's going to make good of it. Seek the good in what he's asking.
3._ How God might use us._ Verse 12: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." If you're reading this on a deserted island, and you just have your Bible, you're like, "Ask, seek, knock… Left turn, left field…" What just happened?
We were talking about asking and seeking and God being a good Father, and then it says, "…in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." This is the Golden Rule, but that's not what it says. It actually starts with these two very important letters. It says, "So in everything…"
Somehow, this Golden Rule, this idea that we're to do good to others, is tied to this idea that God does good to us. We're to do good to those around us, and God our Father in heaven does good to us. How is this tied together? How do we combine this? If your Father gives good to those who ask him, his children ought to do the same.
Your Father in heaven has your DNA. You are his offspring. You are like him. My children look like me because they're mine. We look like him because we're his. If he gives good gifts to his children, to those who ask him, then we ought to do the same. Here's my third and final point: When others knock, God may send you to answer.
Usually, in other religions and cultures where you see this Golden Rule, which does go into a lot of cultures, continents, religions, and places around the world, it's always written in the negative form. "Do not do unto others as you would not want them to do to you." When you get to Christianity, Jesus Christ, when he speaks this, puts it in the positive form. "No, actively keep on doing for others what you would want them to do for you, because this sums up all the laws."
The reason I think he has it here is because you may be the answer to someone else's prayer. Think about the prayers that have been answered in your own life. A lot of times, they're answered through people. Maybe they're not always. Sometimes you pray for rain, and it rains, but sometimes you pray for this very specific scenario that couldn't happen unless God changed the heart and mind of a human being or you're asking for something God is going to answer through a person.
What I'm saying is, right now, there are thousands of people who are the solutions to other people's prayers in the room right now. God is going to answer the prayers of other people through these people. Think about it. There are a bunch of examples. I'll give you one.
If you know anything about George Mueller, he had an incredible life. It was one that was marked by prayer. He lived in the 1800s and cared for over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime. He dedicated his life to caring for kids with needs. He was not a man known for great wealth, but he was a man known for great prayer and faith.
On this one particular day, the story is told that there was no food in the pantry. George had no food for the orphans who were under his roof, yet he had them set the table with forks, spoons, plates, and cups. Then he sat down and blessed the food the Lord would provide. He said amen, and there was a knock at the door.
It was a baker, and he said, "I just felt the Lord impressed upon me that I was to bring food to this residence." He said, "Of course he did." If we stopped right there… Mind blown, right? Not only that, a milk truck breaks down outside, and the milk man walks up and says, "I have to keep this milk cold, and I don't know what to do with it. I'm going to give it to you." Come on.
Right now you have to be like, "Are we sure that's the way the story happened? I don't know… The dude set the table, right? Are we sure?" God does that all the time. I've seen it. I've talked to people who were like, "I wanted to go to school, and I was praying. I didn't have money, and I needed $1,700. I went and checked the mailbox, and there was an envelope with $1,700 cash in there. I don't know what God did. I didn't even really tell anybody what I needed, and it was the exact amount I needed." I hear that.
The young adults who want to go to Launch Retreat are like, "Hey, I want to go, but there's no way I can go." Lo and behold, we'll check the list and be like, "Oh, you're already registered. Somebody knew you had a need. Somebody did it for you." All the time, God is answering the prayers of people through other people. It's what he does.
So often, the miracles people experience are simply God moving through the faithfulness of others. People all around you have prayers they need answered, and you may be the agent God uses, so be alert, and be looking. Let me tell you why. This is something I've been learning lately. If you pray these self-centered prayers… Again, it's okay to pray them, but it's not okay to stay there. You're seeking what God would do in your heart, but if all you do is consume, consume, consume, you end up this gross shell of a human being.
I've seen this geographically illustrated when we were in Israel. At the bottom of the Jordan River is what's known as the Dead Sea. You have the Sea of Galilee which is full of life, birds, and fish. This is where all the fishing which takes place in Jesus' day happened. On the Sea of Galilee you had nets full of fish. Then you had the Jordan River coming out of the Sea of Galilee and connecting down to the Dead Sea. The reason it's called the Dead Sea is there's nothing in it.
The Dead Sea is gorgeous. I have a picture I looked at yesterday on my Instagram. It's beautiful. It is this placid water with purples and pinks and mountains in the background. It's gorgeous, but it's dead. Do you know why? As that river flows into the Dead Sea, there's no place for it to flow out. The sun evaporates the water, leaving those life-giving minerals in there, but they're in such a concentrated fashion that they kill any life inside that sea.
If all we do is consume, consume, consume… "Give me, give me, give me…" That life might be beautiful, but it's dead and empty inside. It was never meant to be that way. But if we say, "Give me, here. Give me, here. Who has need? Who can we help?" in that person… I've met with the person who has everything, yet they're despairing inside. It's like something isn't right. "I'm overwhelmed with anxiety, despair, and depression."
I'm like, "You have to get past yourself and start looking and being aware of the needs of others. You have to begin to pour your life out. That's why you have life. You're like the Dead Sea right now. You want to be like the Sea of Galilee, that out of your life would pour out life into the lives of others, that you would not withhold good from anyone."
The application here is to be looking for the opportunities God puts in front of you. If you're like, "I have no opportunities," look at See the City, this campaign we're doing right now. It's this event we're doing here. You can go to watermark.org/go. There is nothing but opportunity. There are prayers of other people God wants to answer through you. I encourage you, I beg of you, actually, to do that.
In summary, ask with persistence. Next, seek the good in what he's given you after you've asked. "Hey, this is what I have. Is there good in it? Where is the good in it? When will you make good of it?" Lastly, be a person God uses to answer the prayers of others when they knock.
The other day, I was with my kids. I have Weston, who's 3; Finley, who's 7 now; and Presley, who's 9. I asked them, "Hey, if God would give you anything you asked for right now, what would you ask him for? I want to hear from you guys. If he would give you anything you asked him for right now, what would you ask him for?"
Presley, my oldest, spoke up and said, "Well, Daddy, I would ask him for enough food to feed everyone who is hungry." I said, "Well done. You're a future minister, Presley. Well done." Then Finley spoke up. This is a rough message for Finley. I'm sorry. I'll buy her yogurt later. She said, "Daddy, I'd ask for wings so I could fly." Okay, all right. You'd fly and help people. I know what you mean. Then Weston, my 3-year-old, spoke up. I said, "Weston, what about you? What would you ask for?" He goes, "I'd ask for a doughnut."
I learned three things from this experiment, and I just thought I'd share them with you in conclusion. The one who had been around God the most, who has known Jesus the longest, said, "Hey, I would ask for something that would help everybody." That's good. What I learned from Weston is a lot of times I'm asking God for a doughnut, and I don't even realize it. I think it's silly when you're 3, but when you're 35, it's a lot less silly. I laugh at his prayer request. "Ha, a doughnut? Of course, I can do that right now."
God is the same way. He's like, "I hear what you're asking me for…" I don't want to be insensitive, unpastoral, or unloving to you, but one day you're going to see it was just a doughnut you were asking for. I'm not saying that on you. I don't know what you're asking, so apply it if it fits, and if not, disregard it.
Lastly, if you want to fly, ask for wings. I love the beauty of that because it's faithful. It's like, "You know what I'd like to do? I'd like to fly. Can I have wings?" She's honest. Ask God honestly and persistently, seeking the good in what he's given you, and being prepared to give good to others around you. Let me pray that we would.
Father, thank you for this text you have preserved for centuries, that you spoke with your own mouth as you walked around incarnate on the earth. Father, thank you for your sovereignty, that everything that has happened and will happen has been ordained before creation, and that the worst of the things that can happen to us you can make good of.
There's a wrestling in our hearts around that, God. As we exist in this broken world awaiting perfection, can you help us solve that? Can you help us hold onto that hope? Help us understand that, not in a way that's trite or platitudinous or cliché, but in a way that's right and true theologically. Give us a right and true understanding of who you are. Do that now, God, as we worship you.
I love that simple reality that if we're wondering if God can make something great out of something that looks like a snake or a stone, we don't need to look past the cross. God saved you in spite of you. He took all your junk, filth, and everything evil and wicked you've done, and it went on Jesus. Jesus paid the price, a sentence you deserve.
He goes in the grave, and God, a sovereign, powerful God, shows you he's bigger than the grave, promising you everlasting life, and resurrecting his Son Jesus Christ from the grave. If you've trusted in that gifting to you, in Luke 11, the same passage where he talks about the good gifts the Father gives, he talks about the Spirit.
He says he gives you his Holy Spirit. He will not keep him from you, that with God, you can navigate the broken world you live in, but it starts with trusting Christ died for you and God raised him from the dead. Upon trusting that, you are his. You belong to him. You are his child, and there's nothing that can change that. There's not a sin you could commit or anything that could happen to you. Nothing can change that.
Sit in that reality, that truth, as we leave and continue to worship a good, good Father. If we can serve you, pray for you, or help you, please let us know with that little Watermark News tearoff, or feel free to come forward and let us know how we can pray with you and talk with you. I love you guys. Have a great week of worship.