Ask, Seek, Knock

Sunday Morning Sermon
August 27, 2017
Matthew 7:7 – 11
John McKeel

Did you ever play the “wishes game” when you were a child? You know it. You pretend you are walking along the beach and find a bottle with a magic genie. He pops out of the bottle and grants you three wishes. What would you wish for?

When we listen to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7, is that too a fairy tale? Does God really answer prayer?

When God says, “No.”

The fact of the matter is, sometimes God says “No.”

  • Does that mean He doesn’t exist?
  • Or worse, does that mean He doesn’t care?
  • Or does God expect us to beg? Luke 18:1 – 4.

Why does God say “No”?

  • Sometimes our requests would hurt us.
  • Sometimes we just want an easy way out.
  • Sometimes there is a greater purpose at stake.

Five Prayer Principles

  1. God knows best. The purpose of prayer is not to change God but to change ourselves – to align our wills with the will of God. Do you remember the first part of Jesus’ model prayer?

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:9, 10).

  1. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. Don’t pray for enlightenment in order to skip the hard work of study. Rather, as you study ask God for understanding (James 1:5).
  2. Prayer moves within the natural laws that govern life. Bad things do happen to good people. Prayer gives us the power to thrive in the midst of adversity (Romans 5:3 ff.).
  3. We must be definite in prayer. Jesus warned us to avoid meaningless phrases and endless repetition (Matthew 6:7, 8). Prayer is not a mantra!
  4. We must be honest in prayer. We can’t lie to God and we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. That’s why confession is such a critical part of prayer.


The promise is, God will give us what we ask for.

  1. Some people look around for the hidden camera, laugh and walk away!
  2. Some people foolishly wish for more stuff to clutter their already busy lives.
  3. God is not a «Cosmic Vending Machine»! Do you remember the old Janis Joplin song «Mercedes Bentz»?
  4. So what would you ask for? What should you ask for? Consider the example of Solomon (1 Kings chapter 3).


A great deal of our literature and mythology is devoted to the “Quest” – knights set out on noble missions. Are you ready to begin your quest?

  1. Some people sit around the living room and dream about going on a quest. They might read about it. They might get out the maps and plan routes and draw up lists of the things they would need, but they never actually set out.
  2. Other people give up too soon. These words are present imperatives. That simply means we need to “keep on asking … keep on seeking … keep on knocking.” (See the International Standard Bible among others.)
  3. Perhaps what hinders us is just knowing where to begin. Jesus told us what to “seek first …” (Matthew 6:33)


How many people miss out because they don’t have the courage to go knock on the door? How many opportunities are missed because it just seems too good to be true.


Matthew 7:7 is a beautiful promise, so what is required to make it come true?

  1. Lord help me see your purpose.
  2. Lord, you are Lord!
  3. Rejoice, even in the face of suffering.
    • Our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances.
    • Hebrews 12:2
    • James 1:2, 3

Asking means admitting we need help. Seeking means asking plus effort. Knocking means asking plus effort plus persistence and it all starts with a step.

Some Things to Think About


  1. “Ask and you will receive” … Is that always true? (Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. What did he ask for and what did he receive?)
  2. “Seek and you will find” … What should we be seeking?
  3. “Knock and the door will be opened” … What door is Jesus talking about?
  4. What do these three actions (ask, seek, knock) have in common?


  1. What are some of the reasons people don’t ask, seek, or knock?
  2. God knows what we need, and, as a good Father he provides what we need, so why does God want us to ask?
  3. What will move us from thinking about going on a quest (seeking) and actually going?
  4. Grammatically, the three verbs (ask, seek, knock) are present imperatives. That means we are to “keep on asking, seeking and knocking.” Why do some people give up early?
  5. How will asking, seeking, and knocking, change us?


  • Write a list of five things to ask God for. Pray over this list every day.

Teach Your Children Well

Sunday Morning Sermon
August 20, 2017
Deuteronomy 6:1 – 7
John McKeel

Five Functions

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

If the church were a building then:

  1. The foundation of the Church is worship (vv. 42; 47).
  2. One wall is education (v. 42).
  3. The other wall is fellowship (v. 42).
  4. One side of the roof is ministry/service (v. 45).
  5. The other side of the roof is evangelism (v. 47).

Of course, the biggest challenge is learning to see these functions as God intended them. For example, “fellowship” means much more than “potluck” and education is more than the classroom experience!

What is the biblical model of education?

When we think of education, we think about a teacher, a student, and a subject and maybe a classroom. It is difficult for us to envision any other model, but I’d like to try.

Let’s go back in time and learn from Moses and the Israelites. His life is coming to an end. The last of the slaves who fled Egypt have died. The Israelites are preparing to enter the Promised Land and Moses, now well over 100 years old, addresses them one last time. Open your Bibles, please, to Deuteronomy chapter 6.

1 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his command-ments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [1]


  1. “Boil it down.” Yes, there are many commandments but what is the one guiding principle? v. 4.
  2. Know the Lord! v. 5
  3. Teach your children. v. 7
    • Diligently
    • Talk about these things constantly
    • What does it take to raise godly children? Godly parents!


Touching Lepers

August 13, 2017
Luke 5:12 – 17
John McKeel

The Disease That Made You an Outcast

There are many terrible diseases: shingles, arthritis, stones of all kinds, but in the ancient world of the Bible one stood out, leprosy. Not only was it hideous and painful, but it made you an outcast.

 A Painless Hell

“The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp,” (Leviticus 13:45–46).

Leprosy or Hansen’s disease as it is known today, destroys the nerves. The results of uncared for injuries leads to horrible disfigurements. When this man came to Jesus (Luke 5:12 – 17), he was truly a man in need.

The Leper Comes to Jesus

As if the disease wasn’t bad enough, leprosy represented punishment for sin (Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah had been judged by God with leprosy. See Numbers 12:6–10; 2 Kings 5:25–27; 2 Chronicles 26:19 respectively).

Notice when the leper comes to Jesus, he doesn’t say, “Lord, you can heal me.” Rather he pleads “Lord, you can make me clean.”

Like the leper, before we can be forgiven, three things must happen:

  1. We must become aware of our condition.
  2. We must realize Christ is our only hope.
  3. We must have real faith.

Show Yourself to the Priest

Why did Jesus send him away? Because it was time to celebrate.

“In Biblical times the rare deliverances from leprosy were certified by an elaborate and uniquely joyful ceremony that extended over eight full days in fulfillment of the directives of Leviticus 14. … Imagine the joy of the healed man and his family—and the communal celebration that accompanied that great eighth day. It was as if a resurrection had taken place. Very likely there was feasting and singing long into the night.

For us Christians, the Old Testament’s description of these ancient ceremonies elicits incredible joy not only because the Scriptures speak of Christ (cf. Luke 24:27; John 5:39), but also because this elaborate ritual specifically speaks of the atonement through Christ and his power to deliver. This is precisely what Jesus’ healing of the leper in Luke 5 is all is about.” R.K. Hughes

Some Things to Think About


  1. Do we have any diseases today that carry a social stigma as leprosy did so long ago?
  2. Read the parallel accounts of this healing and think about what each one adds to our understanding.
    1. Matthew 8:2 – 4
    2. Mark 1:40 – 45
    3. Luke 5:12 – 17
  3. Why did Jesus tell the man to show himself to the priest?


  1. Jesus didn’t have to touch the man. Why did the Lord do that?
  2. What did the leper feel when Jesus touched him?
  3. How important is touch?


  • Who do you know that needs a hug?

Belief: From Baby Steps to Triumph

First Sunday/First Principles

Sunday Morning Sermon
August 6, 2017
Genesis 12:1 – 9
John McKeel



In the movies, there are “freeze frame” moments.

  • Rocky dancing at the top of the stairs,
  • when the bone becomes a space ship in 2001: A Space Odessy;
  • Casablanca when Rick and Ilsa part at the airport;
  • Taylor finds the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes;
  • Gene Kelly singing in the rain;
  • Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In the story of Abraham, the Freeze Frame moment is Abraham on the mountain top re-united with Isaac (Genesis 22), but that moment, the triumph of Abraham’s faith began many years before; when God called him to leave Ur and journey to the Promised Land.

Open your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 11

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for …” v. 1

  • Faith and belief translate the same word.
  • Faith is different from hope.

Verse 6 tells us what to believe:

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  • God exists
  • He “rewards us” with what?
    • Purpose: Life is a school
    • Heaven: the Final Reward 

Abraham’s Journey

  1. It began with the call, Genesis 12:1 – 3
    1. A Command: leave
    2. A Promise: I will
    3. A Blessing
  2. “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness,” Paul, Romans 4:3 (Galatians 3:6; James 2:23) quoting Genesis 15:6.
  3. Notice that Abraham believed, even though he didn’t have all the answers. Can you imagine the conversation he had with Sarah?


  1. Where? Hebrews 11:8 – 10
    1. He didn’t know where
    2. But he traveled with his
      1. Tent – Marked him as a pilgrim
      2. Altar – Marked him as a believer
  2. How? Hebrews 11:11, 12
    1. He didn’t know how the promise was going to be fulfilled
  3. When? Hebrews 11:13 – 16
    1. “Are we there yet?”
    2. “How much longer?”
  4. Why? Hebrews 11:17 – 19
    1. Why is God doing it this way?