The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Good Gifts from A Loving Father’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 6/21/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1Gr5A16
Happy Father’s Day!
What do you get as a Father’s Day present for the Dad who has everything? I believe the best way we can honor God on Father’s Day is by attempting to really get to know Him for who He truly is. God is a loving Father. He is GOOD; and He wants good things for us.
Far too often, God is portrayed as a distant Father who takes little practical interest in our daily lives. But this could not be further from the truth. Count the good things in your life: family, friends, resources, and all those little things that make life enjoyable. Now remember that every single one of those things comes from your Father in heaven:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:16-17
Do not be deceived. God is good; Satan is bad. It really is that simple. God loves you, and wants good things for you. Can I prove it to you?
God Wants to Bless You
In Genesis 1:27, God made man in His image. Do you know what the very first thing He did was after creating us in His image? He blessed us:
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them… – Gen 1:27-28
God’s first action towards mankind was to bless us. I believe that sets a precedent; He is always inclined to bless us, because we are His people!
God knows our hearts, and He knows our every need. Jesus encouraged His disciples to be direct in their prayers to God:
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” – Matt 6:5-8
God knows our needs before we ask Him for anything! But too often we assume that means we don’t have to ask.
God wants us to be direct in prayer. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who uses a lot of words, but never really says anything? There are people who are so verbose, but none of the words they use carry any weight. God doesn’t want us to be those people when we pray!
God directs our steps (Prov 3:5). He has the hairs on our head numbered (Lk 12:7). He actually doesn’t have anything better to do than listen to your prayers. So don’t beat around the bush! Get to the point. He already knows what you’re about to ask Him; so ask with boldness and without apology!
When you were a child, did you fear your father when you asked him for food? Did you fear him when you asked him for presents? For help with your homework? Of course not! So why do we fear our Father in heaven, who created us to enjoy fellowship with Him for all eternity?
Ask to Receive
Just because God knows our every need, does not mean we don’t have to ask to see our needs fulfilled. God’s overwhelming desire to bless us does not mean we don’t have to ask for His blessings. We’ve been conditioned not to ask for blessing. We think we’re inconveniencing God when we ask Him for good things. But how can we ever inconvenience a God who has all the resources of heaven at His disposal?
Did you know that God actually takes pleasure in blessing us?
… for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
– Phil 2:12-13
God made man to have fellowship with Him. He made us for a purpose: to become His sons and daughters. And what good father withholds what He has from His children?
After commanding His disciples to be direct in prayer (see Matt 6:5-8, above), Jesus went on to clarify that just because God knows our every need, does not mean that we don’t have to petition Him for provision in prayer:
“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. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, 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!” – Matt 7:7-11
We’re not going to see the fullness of His promise over our lives unless we ask to see it! If we want to be given, we have to ask. If we want to find, we have to seek; and if we want doors opened for us, we have to knock, and ask God to open them for us!
I remember asking my father-in-law, Dave, for my wife’s hand in marriage. My wife, Rachael, and I had been dating for almost a year. We were home visiting her parents, and she and I had discussed our intentions. We knew we wanted to get married, and I knew her father would appreciate my asking to marry his daughter, before simply deciding we would get hitched.
Rachael and her mom were downstairs watching a movie. Dave was alone in the kitchen, working on his computer. I knew it was the moment I had been waiting for! I walked up to the kitchen table, unsure of exactly what I would say, but knowing that my desire to propose to Rachael outweighed any reservation I had about going into this conversation.
But as I got near Dave, something went terribly wrong. Rachael’s sister was dating a stud lacrosse player; his college team had just won the NCAA championships. Dave, Rachael’s dad, was watching his NCAA highlight reel. He must have scored 4 goals in the time it took me to walk from the edge of the kitchen to the kitchen table, and I was a wreck. I wasn’t a stud lacrosse player! What did I possibly bring to the table compared to this guy? In three seconds, I went from an ignorantly confident man to a scared little boy. Why would Dave say yes to me marrying his daughter, if there were stud athletes with highlight reels out there?
I tried to escape, but it was too late. “Hey Mike,” Dave said. Crap. “Hi…” I squeaked. “You look like something’s on your mind,” Dave said. “Yeah…” I squawked. I was messing it up! This was my chance to ask him to marry Rachael, but the opportunity was slipping away. Finally, I just opened my mouth and let the words pour out.
I explained how we had been dating for almost a year. I loved his daughter. I loved the way she looked at me, and I definitely loved the way she looked, period. I loved that she couldn’t sneeze just once; it had to be four or five times in a row. I loved that her favorite food group was cheese. I especially loved her value for family, and her love for spending time with the people who mattered to her most.
“So, what are you asking me,” Dave interrupted. Stupid, I thought to myself, this was so stupid. This was supposed to go so much better. But I asked anyway. “I would like your permission to marry your daughter,” I confessed.
Dave didn’t say anything. He backed up his chair, got up, and took a step towards me. I raised my hands to defend myself. Was he going to hit me? He looked me straight in the eyes, smiled, and said, “Why didn’t you just say so? Welcome to the family!”
That conversation was nerve-wracking! But it didn’t have to be. I should have simply asked: stated my request, knowing that I had good intentions that aligned with Dave’s best wishes for his daughter. I should have boldly approached him, knowing his answer would be yes, because my desires lined up with his.
Just because we know an answer is yes, does not mean we don’t have to ask. Knowing God’s promises, and asking to see them in your life, are separate and distinct. So, what are you asking God for?
…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! – Matt 7:11b
God gives us good things when we ask. But what is included in the definition of good things?
First, God promises to meet our material needs. Jesus presented a Catch-22 to His disciples. If they sought after earthly treasures instead of God, they would end up with neither earthly treasures nor God. If, on the other hand, they sought His kingdom at the expense of all else, He promised that God would meet their material needs:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matt 6:33
Paul reiterated Jesus’ stance in his letter to the church at Philippi:
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus! – Phil 4:19
There is a distinct difference between something we want and something we need. But when we have a genuine need, God promises to meet it when we keep our heart set on Him!
Second, God promises us nine spiritual gifts:
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. – 1 Cor 12:4-11
God gives us spiritual gifts for His good pleasure. When we’re able to pull down words of knowledge from heaven, or prophecy about the things of God, it’s not really for us as much as the person exercising the gift: it’s for Him! God works signs, miracles and wonders through us so that we can make Him known to others!
But none of us will operate in spiritual gifts if we don’t ask to receive them. The difference between Christians who exercise the power of the Holy Spirit, and those who don’t, is the realization that it is acceptable to ask God to move in power!
When we ask for spiritual gifts, God promises that we will never receive a counterfeit. I’ve answered this question with members many times: “What if I pray for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and Satan comes and fills me with something that is not of God?” Jesus promises us (Matt 7:9-10, above) that if we ask for more of God’s Holy Spirit, we’re not going to get anything else. If we ask for more of God, He is not going to allow us to receive a counterfeit! We should never be afraid when we pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Satan will swoop in and give us something that is not of God. It cannot be done!
Finally, “good gifts” includes salvation. Let’s not forget the simple stuff. Signs, miracles and wonders are definitely all things we should seek after as Spirit-filled Christians. However, there is nothing more miraculous than a soul saved! When you give your life to Jesus Christ, you are heaven-bound! There is nothing the enemy can ever do to steal your divine inheritance from you when you trust in God for salvation.
God’s desire is that every man and woman would be saved:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Pet 3:9
Still don’t believe me?
[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Tim 2:4
God desires that every single man and women born would make a decision for Jesus Christ. So, what are you waiting for?
Salvation is the best gift any of us can ever receive. Once we’re saved, God promises to meet all our material and spiritual needs. After all, the only way we can grow His kingdom is by witnessing from a place of joy: having all our needs met, and all the provision we could ever need!
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The reason it is so easy for us to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.” God has already paid the highest price. He gave His only Son to death so that we would be saved from it.
Let’s spend Father’s Day honoring His character. God is good, and He loves you very much. Let’s break the mold by being a people who aren’t afraid to ask for His goodness through prayer, in Jesus’ name!
– by Pastor Mike White
© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.