Abundant Living: Abundant Living

March 4, 2024

Series: Abundant Living

Book: Matthew

This sermon is part of our Abundant Living series. You can watch more here.


Sermon manuscript:

In our passage last Sunday, we see Jesus give this radical command, “Do not judge.”  It isn’t that we blindly accept all things but instead we are to judge one another with grace and gentleness toward one another.

On paper it sounds awesome.  Who wouldn’t want a friendship, marriage, family, church in Austin that isn’t layered in grace and gentleness as we grow and mature in Christ?  Who wouldn’t want that?

But in real life relationships are going to be messy, right?  There are going to be hurt feelings.  There are going to be misunderstandings.  Jesus just told us we are walking around with logs in our eyes.  Sometimes we are going to swipe someone across the head.  Sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident.  It’s going to happen!

Hopefully. There are also moments of sweetness.  Hopefully there are also moments of serving one another, sacrificing for one another, praying for one another, encouraging one another but if we are going to be intentional with one another, invested in one another, challenging one another and spurring one another on to love and good deeds; there’s going to be bumps in the road.

If we are honest, we are going to have moments when we want to quit on our relationships with one another, we will want to give up, we want to pull back, therefore, Jesus speaks these words to our soul.  Let’s look at verse 7:

Matthew 7:7, “7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

It is possible that you are reading verse 7 like a personal invitation from Jesus to put together an Amazon wish list.  Maybe you have been in a church where spiritual leaders have taught you, “You just need to ask, seek, and knock, and Jesus will give you whatever you want!”

That’s not true.  That’s not what Jesus is teaching in verse 7.  Jesus is not a genie in a bottle giving you three wishes, and if you just ask, seek, and knock you will get that new refrigerator.

This why it’s important to study God’s Word and not just pull a verse out of context.  Jesus’ teaching is Matthew 5, 6, and 7.  In Matthew 5:1-12 we see this macro description of His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  It is poetic.  It is larger than life.  It is this huge invitation to enter into His kingdom.

In the rest of chapter 5 and chapter 6 we see the details of what life in His kingdom looks like practically.  It is to be salt and light.  It is to be a people who resolve conflict.  It is a to be a people who turn from sexual immorality and honor the gift of marriage.

In 2017 we saw the rise of #MeToo Movement about how women are treated.  In 2020 we saw the rise of Black Lives Matter about how black people are treated.  These are all longings of our culture for heaven on earth.  We’re not going to experience it perfectly but in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 Jesus is inviting us into His Kingdom to get a taste of heaven on earth.

It is an invitation to a beautiful life.  It is an invitation to an abundant life we have in Christ.  It is an invitation to love your enemies, walk in peace and stability, so that in verse 7 Jesus says, “If you want this abundant life, turn to your Heavenly Father and ask for it.”  Does that make sense?

It isn’t ask, seek and knock for anything you can imagine but ask, seek and knock for the abundant life we have been given in Christ!  In fact, when you look at the original language the verbs, “Ask, seek, and knock” are all present continuous verbs, so that verse 7 actually reads, “Ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock and keep on knocking for the abundant life we have been given in Christ.”

This isn’t just an individual invitation but a collective invitation for the body of Christ.  If we are around each other long enough, we are going to get discouraged.  If we are going to judge one another in grace and gentleness, we are going to mess it up.  We are going to seek our personal kingdoms where moth and rust destroy.

We are going to worry, we are going to snap at each other, we are going to not return that phone call, walk pass one another and not say, “Good morning.”  It’s going to happen; therefore, Jesus cries out to our soul, “Don’t give up! Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking on the doors of heaven.”

Illustration:  I want to keep pressing into this because in our culture right now, it is really popular to talk about church hurt.  The common pattern of the conversation is, “I was involved in a local church, someone in the local church hurt me, therefore, I can’t trust in Jesus or get involved in the local church again.”

Listen to me, I am not talking about criminal events where nobody is ever held accountable.  That’s wrong.  I am talking about hurt feelings.  I am talking about misunderstandings.  I am talking about stepping on toes.  I am talking about a ministry leader that is too passive and doesn’t communicate clearly or too direct and communicates harshly.

God’s Word doesn’t describe the local church as a place where everyone possesses perfect social skills.  Jesus just told us we have logs in our eyes.  We are metaphorically walking around whacking one another in the head and then when it happens we say to ourselves, “Where did that come from?”

Listen to me, we need to jettison the idea that the local church is a religious function where we put on nice clothes, have a donut, listen to some great music, talk about something fun we did that weekend, and then say, “See you next Sunday!”

No, the local church in Austin is like a volunteer emergency room.  We walk in off the street and we have cuts and wounds in different places.  Some of us are missing body parts.  Some of us have an infection.

Some of us know what’s wrong and we are trying to treat those areas and some of us have no idea something is wrong.  We think we are here for our friend and we don’t realize we are missing a foot, so that Jesus is teaching us, “You’re in My Kingdom, heaven on earth, it’s glorious but it’s not heaven yet.”

There are going to be setbacks, you’re going to get discouraged, you’re going to think something is wrong, therefore, in those moments, cry out to your Heavenly Father, and ask for His help, seek His wisdom, and keep on knocking, because some really beautiful things can happen in My Kingdom.  Right?

In His Heavenly Kingdom we are going to see husbands and wives work through conflict.  We are going to see people overcome addiction.  We are going to see prisoners set free!  We’re going to see darkness pushed back.  We’re going to see idols destroyed.  Right?

In our church family I have seen people give other people cars.  I have seen people physically healed.  I have seen people look death in the face and their eyes are filled with hope in Christ!  You’re going to see wealthy people drop to their knees in prayer.  I have seen hardened hearts softened.  I have seen people walk in spiritually dead and walk out spiritually alive!  I have seen it!  Therefore, we keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.  Let’s look at verse 8:

Matthew 7:8, “8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

In verse 8 Jesus says, “When we ask, seek, and knock” we have a Heavenly Father who hears our prayers and responds.  Isn’t that good?  I am guessing some of us are thinking, “What about those times we have asked and we don’t get a response?”

We will touch on that in a minute, but I don’t want us to miss the depth of what Jesus is teaching in verses 7 and 8.  We keep on asking and seeking and knocking because where else would we turn?

Jesus has already exposed the frailty of our personal kingdom in chapters 5 and 6.  Who else are we going to turn to when we get that phone call from the hospital?  What else are we going to turn to for the brokenness of our soul?

Verse 8 reminds me of the parable in Luke 11 when Jesus tells a story of a friend who shows up at your house last minute in the middle of the night, but you don’t have any food to feed them.  Do you know this parable?

Needing food in the middle of the night today isn’t that big of a deal, because we can just run to the store and pick up something, but back then they didn’t have hotels, fast food, or HEB.  Therefore, if a friend shows up at your house and you don’t have anything it would have been really embarrassing.  So, embarrassing you would have gone to your neighbor next door in the middle of the night to borrow something.

But, in the parable in Luke 11 the neighbor says, “Go away.”  It is too late.  The kids are already asleep.  Everyone slept in a small house, in one room, and he doesn’t want to open the door and wake up the whole house.

Then, Jesus says, “But, you don’t go away, you keep on knocking, and eventually the neighbor opens the door and it isn’t because he is your neighbor, but because you are persistent.”

In Luke 11, Jesus uses the word, “Persistent” which in the original language means, “Shameless” because you know the only way you get food for your friend is if your neighbor opens the door.  You’re desperate for your neighbor to open the door.

In verse 8, the reason the person is asking, seeking and knocking on the door of our Heavenly Father is because we know our Heavenly Father is the only One who has the resources.

When we think there is no way our marriage is going to recover…we ask, seek, and knock with shameless persistence because we need our Heavenly Father to open the doors of heaven.

When we think there is no way our friend is going to respond to the gospel.  We think their hearts are too hard, too angry, too indifferent…we ask, seek, and knock with shameless persistence because we need our Heavenly Father to open the doors of heaven.

This is what we are doing right now in our church family with Fasting and Prayer. Right now, our church in north Austin is experiencing some circumstantial challenges and we have invited our church family to bang on the doors of heaven.

We are asking you to fast throughout the week, you can meet to pray on Zoom or we will meet here tonight at 6pm with shameless persistence.  So far, it’s been awesome.  We have men and women crying out to our Heavenly Father, “Give us Your favor, give us boldness, help us turn from the idols of this world and live for Your glory!”

Why?  Where else would we go?  Therefore, with shameless persistence we bang on the doors of heaven.  Look at verses 9-10:

Matthew 7:9-10, “9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?”

Jesus is so good to us because He knows we hear His words and at the soul level there are doubts.  In a sermon on a Sunday these words sound great but when we are sitting next to that hospital bed, when we are in the fetal position on our couch, when our stomach is turning with anxiety, He knows doubts are going to flood our thoughts, therefore, He points us to the goodness of our Heavenly Father.

In verses 9-10 we see an illustration of an earthly father feeding his toddler bread and fish, which were basic food items in their culture, and then Jesus says, “Imagine that earthly father preparing a meal for his toddler and handing the toddler a stone that was shaped like bread.”

It’s meant to feel uncomfortable as we imagine the toddler closing his mouth on a stone.  Who would do such a thing?  Imagine that toddler being hungry, going to his father for food and the father giving his son something as dangerous as a snake.  It’s cruel.  Look at verse 11:

Matthew 7:11, “11 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 what is good to those who ask Him!”

In verse 11 Jesus is wanting to create a contrast between the earthly father and our Heavenly Father to show the depth of His goodness.  Our earthly father is limited and yet still finds a way to bring good things into our life at some level, therefore, how much more our Heavenly Father.  Sit in that for a second.

Psalm 119:68 teaches us that our Heavenly Father is good and does good.  It doesn’t mean we get everything we want in life.  It doesn’t mean our circumstances in life are perfect.  I’ve experienced my share of pain just like the rest of us in this room.

Please don’t hear, “Turn to Jesus and everything will get better.”  Life is hard.  Everything was created to be perfect.  All of that was lost in sin.  Jesus has come to reconcile us to Himself.  Jesus has come to invite us to live in His Heavenly Kingdom on earth and while we are here, “Turn to our Heavenly Father over and over and over.”

What about those really difficult parts of life?  What about those moments when we ask, seek, and knock and He never responds?  What about when that friendship that doesn’t seem to get reconciled?  What about when that spouse doesn’t seem to respond?  What happens when we pray for our non-denominational church family and the answers never come?  What’s the answer?

Keep on asking!  It is why in verse 11 Jesus uses the word “evil.”  The severity of the word is intentional to contrast the goodness of our Heavenly Father.  If you, who are evil and wicked still manage to give good gifts to your children, then how much more will our Heavenly Father give to you.

You’re in His Kingdom.  You have His attention.  He’s clothed you in the righteousness of Christ.  One day, we will be face to face.  One day, everything will be perfect.  But until that day, we keep on asking, seeking and knocking on the doors of heaven.

Listen to me, if you have yet to trust in Jesus, you need to know none of us are born into His Heavenly Kingdom.  We all must enter through faith in Jesus.  The invitation is for all people.  But we must turn from our personal kingdoms and believe in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the moment we do we have the eternal attention of our Heavenly Father.


North Village Church

This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.

Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.

North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.

Check out our North Village Church calendar highlights such as our Christmas Eve Service and Easter Sunday Service.

You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.


NVC Online

Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.