Daily Bible Verses | The Gospel Of Saint MatthewDaily Bible Verses For Lent

Daily Bible Verses For Lent | Effectiveness Of Prayer | The Golden Rule | Christian Faith And Charity | Audio KJV | Love In Jesus

Audio Bible | Lent | Jesus | Prayer

Matthew 7: 7-12 – Lent Week 1, Thursday (Audio Bible, Spoken Word)

7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Our prayer must be true to God. It is natural to petition God for what we need. It would indeed be arrogant to ‘go it alone’ and not humbly to share with God our needs and to ask Him for help, as if He were not our Father and we His children and creation. We are called by Jesus to acknowledge that all we have, we have through God. And we are called to develop our conversation with God through a life of prayer.

Our Father gives us what is good simply because he loves us. Our response through prayer is our acknowledgement of God’s great gifts.

We are taught by Jesus to pray with confidence. We should be confident that, if we knock on the door of the Father’s house, there will be someone on the other side to answer the knocking at the door and to let us in. Similarly, if we are looking for God, we shall find him. In truth, he is here already, eagerly waiting and really longing to be found. All God needs is for us to look for him. Once we open our eyes to the truth of God, we shall see and be with him.

God too protects us from false wishes, from evil desires. Were we to ask God to do something contrary to his will, and as a piece of this contrary to our own interests and those of others, we would find our prayers answered in ways which we could not expect and which superficially may seem to run counter to our wishes. Our will, then, would need correcting to be brought in line with the will of God. God always answers our prayers, but then at times in ways which require a further spiritual development on our part.

We think, then, of how, through the Lenten season, we must work to align our wishes to the will of God.

To help us to feel confident as we approach God with our prayers, Jesus asks us to think of how we respond to the requests of our children. If a child of ours asks for bread, will we give him a stone? We may imagine Jesus’ audience saying: No! Of course not! Our child is hungry: we feed him or her.

This is human nature. So, Jesus asks, if we poor sinners know this much good in our relationships with our children, how much greater will the goodness be which God our Father shows toward us. Jesus presents this truth of our relationship with God in ways which we and the people he is most immediately speaking to will understand. He helps us to know that we need never be afraid to ask God for the things that will be good for us and our fellow human beings while we offer Him our prayers.

The ‘golden rule’, to do to others as we would have them do to us, is not a selfish rule – in the sense of thinking: ‘I’ll do this for you, then you do that for me. I’ll scratch your back; you scratch mine.’ Rather, it is a passing on of God’s great love and of the gifts to our humanity of God which can be achieved through prayer. We should not limit our gifts to others, just as God does not limit His to us. We should give unconditionally. If God can give so abundantly to us, how much more should we give to each other. This is justice which sits well in accordance with the will of God and with His example, as taught to us in this Bible passage by Christ.

Jesus gives us these teachings so that we may with confidence lift up our hearts to God. While we confess our sins and pray for God’s forgiveness, so too we may know with confidence that God will reward us; when we allow ourselves to live according to God’s will, and as we are taught by His Son Jesus Christ, we may with confidence aspire to come home to Him.

‘Finally, after a short while, Christ came on earth and cried out personally, with his own voice: Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy-burdened, and I will refresh you. Look at how he received those who listened to his voice. He gave them a ready pardon for their sins and in a moment he quickly freed them from those who troubled them: the Word made them holy, the Spirit sealed them, their old nature was buried, the new man was born and grew young again through grace. What was the result? He who had been an enemy, became a friend; he who had been a stranger, became a son; he who had been common and profane, became holy.’ St Asterius of Amasea

Audio Bible KJV | Endnotes

Faith Without Works Is Dead And Yet God Will Do All | A Paradox?

Yes, the sense of paradox can be understood to be central to Christian faith, which so often refuses to conform to human reasoning. The idea that faith without works is dead comes from James 2:14-26, where James argues that true faith is demonstrated by our actions. In other words, if we have faith in God, it should be reflected in the way we live our lives and the actions we take.

However, there is also the belief that God’s gift of salvation is impossible for humans to attain through their own efforts. This is based on the idea that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, and not through any good works or deeds that we may do.

So, on one hand, we are called to live out our faith through good works and deeds, but on the other hand, we cannot earn our salvation through those works alone. This can be a difficult paradox to reconcile. As Christians, we cannot earn our salvation, but now go out and do what you would if you could!

There is the thought that our good works are not done in order to earn our salvation, but rather as a response to salvation freely gifted by God through his grace.

We are called to be good Christians and live out our faith through our actions, but we do so not in order to earn salvation, but rather as a natural response to God. We cannot attain salvation through our own efforts, but we can respond to the gift of salvation by living out our faith in tangible ways.

As Christians, it may be that we are called to live within a certain level of paradox – in terms of human reason. In many ways, Jesus’ teachings in the Bible are challenging and may refuse to make sense. Even today, Jesus’ parables may challenge the listener, and insist on a certain failure to make sense. The meaning and the purpose of God in the parables exceeds and cannot be simply and definitively grasped in human terms, and yet we understand that God invites us to communicate with Him in words – including more receptively through listening to the Bible, and more actively through worship and prayer.

Christian leaders have commented upon the themes of faith and good works:

  1. Pope Francis: In his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote, ‘Faith without works is barren’ (no. 14). He goes on to argue that ‘works of love directed to one’s neighbour are the most perfect external manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit’ (no. 37).
  2. Martin Luther: While Luther is often associated with the idea of ‘salvation by faith alone,’ he also emphasized the importance of good works as a natural result of faith. In his ‘Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans,’ Luther wrote, ‘Faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing. And so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly’ (para. 15).
  3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, emphasized the need for Christians to be actively engaged in the world and to live out their faith in concrete ways. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote, ‘Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate’ (p. 44).
  4. Billy Graham: Graham, a prominent evangelical preacher, emphasized the importance of both faith and works in the Christian life. He wrote, ‘Faith without works is dead, but works without faith are useless’ (from his book The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life, p. 86).