“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  – Matthew 7:7-8

Some of you may recall a sitcom in the late 60’s called “I Dream of Jeannie” about an astronaut who finds a magic bottle containing a female genie who has the power to grant his wishes. The story lines usually dealt with the tension between the genie and her master as he contended with the genie’s desire to solve all his problems while he preferred to let things follow their natural course. The basic premise of the show has a certain appeal. And why not: who wouldn’t want three wishes? Who wouldn’t want somebody to listen to our requests and poof, all your troubles disappear and all your needs and wants are supplied? 

There are Christians and non-Christians who believe that God is that on demand genie that will meet all our needs. We treat him as if He is responsible for giving us our every desire. All we have to do is name it and claim it, God will say the magic words and then our desire will appear. That is not how it works. If that were the case,  I would never get another cold, or have an argument with my wife, always get the prime parking spot, Florida State would win the national championship every year and my kids would win the Pulitzer Prize for literature and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yes, God wants us to come to Him with our every desire. But, God also wants us to be so in tune with Him that His desires for our lives become our desires. We can absolutely ask God for whatever we desire, but we need to understand that if it is not in His will, He will say “no.”  Can you imagine what this world would be like if God was limited to only acting upon our selfish whims? I do not even want to think about it. What if God was confined to a small lamp? The God I serve is way too big for that.

God’s purposes so dwarf our “in the moment” wishes that we should be staggered by His wisdom, His power and His plan for our lives. James, the brother of Jesus, described our narrow view of God and some of its consequences this way. “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”  (James 4:2-3)

When you read the Bible you come across pesky and irritating terms like sacrifice and leaving and forsaking and following and giving, oh, and loving….like Jesus loved. That doesn’t fit with the “open the bottle and good things start to happen” view of God. The on demand God does not exist.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When we grasp how deeply God loves us, and how far He went to redeem us, how will that change how we view Him?
  2. In what ways do we take God for granted, expecting him to do our bidding and becoming upset when He doesn’t?
  3. What will you take with away you from the message this week?