Sunday, January 22, 2012

God Does Not Operate a Convenience Store, But He Does Provide All of Your Needs!

     “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
   9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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, (Matthew 7:7-11)

     Almost every city in the United States has a convenience store, that local retail outlet that is usually open 24 hours a day, where you can buy almost anything you need, when you don’t have time to go the large market where you normally buy your weekly provisions. In California (and probably even in your state), the biggest and most well known is the 7-Eleven. And probably the busiest small shop in your neighborhood.
     It’s interesting that the above group scripture speaks to the issue of asking God for the things you want and desire, but many miss the more succinct message being conveyed. Sadly, many of us look to God (on a 24 hour basis) to provide us gifts that may not necessarily be what we need. This past Christmas, most of us went all out to buy gifts for our family members, which include luxuries they did not necessarily need, but stuff we felt would ingratiate them to us through our largess.
     Many may agree or disagree with this mind-set, but, in reality there is an inherent nature for us to bless those who are closest to us, and that’s not all that bad. However, after we open the gifts, play with them or use them all the time, my deep feeling is that the even more important aspect to relationships is fellowship, and appreciation for each other. This is inherently what I believe God seeks from His children.
     The above scripture actually conveys this to us and the key to understand better this group of scripture is the word GIFTS, which we find in verse 11. We read:
     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, (Matthew 7:11)
     Most Christians believe this implies that more often than not we go to God not only for our daily provisions (food, shelter, clothing etc.), but most often for whatever our hearts desires. Many prosperity preachers nowadays use this group of scripture to get their flock to claim what they want because God says in His word that we can do this!
     However, upon closer examination of the word gifts, we find the Greek word there is doma, which has a more profound message we need to understand. While the word does represent a present, it is not always a gratuitous or wholly unsuggestive of recompense, but rather, it denotes it is a gratuity, hence the benefactions of a sovereign, which God confers as possessor of all things. In essence its deeper meaning is more so an expression of God’s favor.
     The message here is that through our prayers we are to seek more so that relationship that provides for us the security in the knowledge that we are children of promise and He will never forsake us. Until the return of Christ, He recognizes our journey will be a perilous one, coming under constant attacks (from unbelievers and all who oppose Christ), but one that will be gloriously rewarded upon His return. In the interim, He also knows our needs and will provide them. But He will provide those things we need and not necessarily those things we desire that are not consistent to His will.
     The following is a Commentary by one classical theologian, Matthew Henry, who brings these verses into greater clarity.

Our Saviour, in the foregoing chapter, had spoken of prayer as a commanded duty, by which God is honoured, and which, if done aright, shall be rewarded; here he speaks of it as the appointed means of obtaining what we need, especially grace to obey the precepts he had given, some of which are so displeasing to flesh and blood.

I. Here is a precept in three words to the same purport, Ask, Seek, Knock (v. 7); that is, in one word, "Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms.’’ Those that would be rich in grace, must betake themselves to the poor trade of begging, and they shall find it a thriving trade. "Ask; represent your wants and burdens to God, and refer yourselves to him for support and supply, according to his promise. Ask as a traveler asks the way; to pray is to enquire of God, Eze. 36:37. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost, or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Seek by prayer, Dan. 9:3. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door.’’ We would be admitted to converse with God, would be taken into his love, and favour, and kingdom; sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer, we knock; Lord, Lord, open to us. Christ knocks at our door (Rev. 3:20; Cant. 5:2); and allows us to knock at his, which is a favour we do not allow to common beggars. Seeking and knocking imply something more than asking and praying. 1. We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt God. When the dresser of the vineyard asked for a year’s respite for the barren fig-tree, he added, I will dig about it, Lu. 13:7, 8. God gives knowledge and grace to those that search the scriptures, and wait at Wisdom’s gates; and power against sin to those that avoid the occasions of it. 2. We must not only ask, but knock; we must come to God’s door, must ask importunately; not only pray, but plead and wrestle with God; we must seek diligently; we must continue knocking; must persevere in prayer, and in the use of means; must endure to the end in the duty.

II. Here is a promised annexed: our labour in prayer, if indeed we do labour in it, shall not be in vain: where God finds a praying heart, he will be found a prayer-hearing God; he shall give thee an answer of peace. The precept is threefold, ask, seek, knock; there is precept upon precept; but the promise is six-fold, line upon line, for our encouragement; because a firm belief of the promise would make us cheerful and constant in our obedience. Now here,

1. The promise is made, and made so as exactly to answer the precept, v. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you; not lent you, not sold you, but given you; and what is more free than gift? Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, whatever you ask, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? It is but ask and have; ye have not, because ye ask not, or ask not aright: what is not worth asking is not worth having, and then it is worth nothing. Seek, and ye shall find, and then you do not lose your labour; God is himself found of those that seek him, and if we find him we have enough. "Knock, and it shall be opened; the door of mercy and grace shall no longer be shut against you as enemies and intruders, but opened to you as friends and children. It will be asked, who is at the door? If you be able to say, a friend, and have the ticket of promise ready to produce in the hand of faith, doubt not of admission. If the door be not opened at the first knock, continue instant in prayer; it is an affront to a friend to knock at his door, and then go away; though he tarry, yet wait.’’

2. It is repeated, v. 8. It is to the same purport, yet with some addition. (1.) It is made to extend to all that pray aright; "Not only you my disciples shall receive what you pray for, but every one that asketh, receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, they are all alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith: for God is no respecter of persons.’’ (2.) It is made so as to amount to a grant, in words of the present tense, which is more than a promise for the future. Every one that asketh, not only shall receive, but receiveth; by faith, applying and appropriating the promise, we are actually interested and invested in the good promised: so sure and inviolable are the promises of God, that they do, in effect, give present possession: an active believer enters immediately, and makes the blessings promised his own. What have we in hope, according to the promise, is as sure, and should be as sweet, as what we have in hand. God hath spoken in his holiness, and then Gilead is mine, Manasseh mine (Ps. 108:7, 8); it is all mine own, if I can but make it so by believing it so. Conditional grants become absolute upon the performance of the condition; so here, he that asketh, receiveth. Christ hereby puts his fiat to the petition; and he having all power, that is enough.

3. It is illustrated, by a similitude taken from earthly parents, and their innate readiness to give their children what they ask. Christ appeals to his hearers, What man is there of you, though never so morose and ill-humoured, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? v. 9, 10. Whence he infers (v. 11), If ye then, being evil, yet grant your children’s requests, much more will your heavenly Father give you the good things you ask. Now this is of use,

(1.) To direct our prayers and expectations. [1.] We must come to God, as children to a Father in heaven, with reverence and confidence. How naturally does a child in want or distress run to the father with its complaints; My head, my head; thus should the new nature send us to God for supports and supplies. [2.] We must come to him for good things, for those he gives to them that ask him; which teaches us to refer ourselves to him; we know not what is good for ourselves (Eccl. 6:12), but he knows what is good for us, we must therefore leave it with him; Father, thy will be done. The child is here supposed to ask bread, that is necessary, and a fish, that is wholesome; but if the child should foolishly ask for a stone, or a serpent, for unripe fruit to eat, or a sharp knife to play with, the father, though kind, is so wise as to deny him. We often ask that of God which would do us harm if we had it; he knows this, and therefore does not give it to us. Denials in love are better than grants in anger; we should have been undone ere this if we had had all we desired; this is admirably well expressed by a heathen, Juvenal, Sat. 10, (Matthew Henry Commentary on Matthew 7:7-11)
     Thank you, Matthew Henry, for your words of wisdom. And for reminding us that prayer is not about asking God to grant us our wishes as if He were a magic Genie in a bottle, there to provide us the luxuries that mortal men seek, such as fame, power and wealth; but the sustenance to get us through the day, with the bread of life (His words of wisdom and guidance), to be an effective disciple, to enhance His kingdom, for His everlasting praise and glory! 
     Our eternal reward is guaranteed as we abide in Him and endure to the very end.

     By the way, the next time you go to the 7-Eleven, don’t forget to pick up some of those hot wings! They are awesome!

For more information about the author and his books, click on Joe Ortiz.


  1. Thanks for your refreshing, stimulating, and invigorating thoughts. Lord bless and reward you much, dear Brother Joe. Steve

  2. A very good article about gifts and how to get them. Because the best gifts are from God. In a way, sir, youare a gift from God for bringing all of this good information to us. God bless.