Ask, And It Will Be Given To You: An Attempt To Recover The True Name-It Claim-It Gospel   1 comment

Jesus said, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).

There was once a man who dearly sought after God’s heart. He wanted to become a pastor and enrolled at Yale Seminary. Yet, during school, he saw inconsistencies in the lives of his professors, and he could not help but call them out on them. Surely, God would honor an attempt to reclaim true Christian virtues… yet this man was expelled from Yale during his junior year, and in a time and place where you could not become a pastor without a seminary degree from a top institution such as Yale. This man asked for one thing–that God would use him as a pastor so that he might serve Him the rest of his life. Yet, where was God? He asked, and he did not receive; he sought, and nothing was to be found; he knocked, and the door remained shut. God? Where are you, God?

I think many of us have had similar experiences. I want to go do __________ and it can be honoring to God, but why won’t He let me do it? I want to have __________ and it can be used to honor God, but why won’t He give it to me? I want a relationship with __________ and we can honor God together, but why won’t He work it out?

In reading Luke 11:9-10, many of us know that God promises to give, show (so we can find), and open–but many of us are left sorely disappointed. We know that God is good, so we make feeble attempts to try to reconcile our desires with God’s seeming lack of action. We try to remind ourselves that God is still good, even though we are inwardly disappointed that He seems to have lied or to have forgotten your requests.

 

People such as Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen have perverted the truth of verses such as Luke 11. Sorry to say people, but God is not our cosmic slot machine. Luke 11 speaks of something much greater than receiving health and wealth. Don't miss out.

 

But, rest assured that God has not forgotten you and He has not forsaken you. The man who so dearly wanted to become a pastor? His name is David Brainerd. He is the man credited as the father of the modern missionary movement. Brainerd, no longer able to pastor at a church in the New England area, moved west to minister to Native Americans. He found the work to be difficult and he longed for Christian companionship. Only a handful of Native Americans came to know the Lord during his four years of missionary work. He was depressed and stricken with all sorts of illnesses, and he eventually died at a fairly young age of tuberculosis.

Wait, I thought God answered Brainerd? I thought Brainerd was the father of modern missionary, but it seems like he lived an uneventful life, did not do much for the kingdom of God, and died a painful death. Yes, yes he did. And God was glorified in that and used Brainerd’s life to ignite a spark that has burned into a massive fire.

– Jim Eliot and Nate Saint went into Equador in the 1950’s to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were soon martyred, dying at the hands of the Equadorian natives, who speared them to death. Eliot’s wife returned to the same area and lived with the Equadorians, sharing the gospel of love and forgiveness with them. The man who killed Eliot? He came to know the Lord and is now a pastor.

– Hudson Taylor became a missionary to China, where he proclaimed the gospel for over 50 years. He started an organization which today is known as OMF International. He brought over 800 missionaries into the country and nearly 18,000 Chinese people came to know the Lord. Today, although China is suffering from intense religious persecution under a communist regime, it boasts one of the largest Christian populations in all the world.

– David Livingstone was a medical missionary in Africa. He was also one of the foremost voices for the abolition of slavery.

– John Nevius was one of the first missionaries to Korea, and he promoted an idea of growing local churches supported by the locals. South Korea, today, sends out more missionaries around the world than any other country.

There are countless other examples that have the stamp of David Brainerd. It was his life of suffering, yet persevering in the work of the Lord. It was doing work, not for the sake of wealth or fame, but for the sake of seeing but one soul turn from sin and turn to Christ. Brainerd once wrote, “We should always look upon ourselves as God’s servants, placed in God’s world, to do his work; and accordingly labour faithfully for him; not with a design to grow rich and great, but to glorify God, and do all the good we possibly can.” He formed the mindset of many modern missionaries who have given up lives of comfort to do the Lord’s work where it was not being done: “Worldly pleasures, such as flow from greatness, riches, honours, and sensual gratifications, are infinitely worse than none.” Brainerd also gave missionaries advice for spiritual vitality and perseverance: “When you cease from labour, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hand are labouring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts.”

So… Brainerd had a goal to be used by God. And God used Brainerd’s expulsion from school and Brainerd’s exile to minister to Native Americans and Brainerd’s tuberculosis to bring much glory to God–in a manner in which Brainerd could never have fathomed in his wildest dreams.

This brings me to just three observations of Luke 11:9-10. These are things that have also been characterized in Brainerd’s life.

1. First, ask and you will NOT immediately receive.

Jesus explains in Luke 11:5-8 that a friend will not help out another at midnight if that friend asks for some bread. However, “even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” It’s persistence that wins the friend over. And this illustration by Jesus goes directly into the next verse which says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you…” Ask, and it will be given… but not right away. Ask and ask and ask. Be persistent and fervent in your requests and prayers. Oftentimes, God’s answer to our prayer requests are neither “yes” or “no”, but a “maybe.” It’s not that God doesn’t care, but rather He cares to teach us the virtue of persistence, for as you pray more and more, God will deepen your affection and desire for that prayer. Either that, or His Spirit will convict you of the folly of asking for the wrong things.

David Brainerd’s requests to God were not answered immediately. In fact, they were not answered in his lifetime. The effect of Brainerd’s ministry were not witnessed by him, but they have been witnessed in a powerful way since close friend, Jonathan Edwards, published his diaries and provided a window into the man’s soul.

2. Second, ask and God promises to give good gifts.

Jesus explains in Luke 11:11-12 that a good father will not give a snake if his child asks for a fish. Furthermore, he will not give a scorpion if his child asks for an egg. I think God makes such an extreme, almost ridiculous, contrast because he wants to emphasize something–God will give what is good, although that might not necessarily be what the child is asking for. When I was a child, I would eat as much ice cream as I could possibly get my hands on. But if my father was a good father, when I ask him for ice cream to eat for breakfast, there should be two things that should be certain in his mind. One, he will not give me a snake or anything harmful for me. And, two, he will not give me ice cream. A good father will give what is good for his child, although that is not necessarily what the child wants–it’s what the child needs. The father discerns that and the father gives what is best for his child because he loves his child. Likewise, if we have an earnest desire for something, God will not give us something bad. Psalm 84:11-12 says, “No good thing does [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!” We who trust the Lord and walk according to His ways, are “blessed” because “no good thing does He withhold.” God is the perfect Father, the one with infinite wisdom and infinite patience in order to show infinite love to His children.

Brainerd asked to be used by God, but God did not give him a seminary degree or many converts or a long ministry and life. But what did God do? He used David Brainerd to inspire thousands of missionaries who have won millions of lives to Jesus Christ over the last two centuries.

3. Third, ask and God will give you the Holy Spirit.

The good gift that God gives… it’s the Holy Spirit. And, really, how amazing and how kind of a gift is that. We get the Spirit who will empower us and guide us in the ways of the Father. He is a gift that is relevant in every circumstance and in every request we make to the Father. When believers in Acts 4 were empowered by the Spirit, they “began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Saul became Paul when he received the Holy Spirit and became the foremost missionary to the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit empowers and moves believers (2 Peter 1:21), allows them to endure tribulations (1 Thessalonians 4:6),  regenerates and renews new believers (Titus 3:5), and gifts believers (Hebrews 2:4).

Brainerd was filled with the Holy Spirit. By Him, Brainerd was able to endure expulsion, physical suffering, and a seemingly futile ministry while fixing his gaze on the Lord Jesus Christ.

So… ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. But know that the Father’s ways are greater than ours, and His gifts are often much better than we had fathomed… likewise, His gifts are rarely the thing we specifically ask of Him. So, ask, and get ready to have the Lord work mightily. Who knows, maybe He’ll kick you out of school, send you to a foreign land, and kill you with a painful disease… and millions will have eternal life from it. If only he would so graciously work in our lives…

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Posted November 1, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

One response to “Ask, And It Will Be Given To You: An Attempt To Recover The True Name-It Claim-It Gospel

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  1. good insight~

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