Ebenezer means "stone of help," and was the name of a monument raised by the prophet Samuel, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us." (1 Sam. 7:12) The hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing includes the line, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I'm come." Through God's grace you and I have made it to today. Our job is to praise God for getting us here and trust him to bring us through tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Matthew 7:7   "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

I'm not a big fan of knocking on doors.  No matter whose door it may be, a friend or a stranger, I always worry I am interrupting them if I have to knock. What if they don't want visitors right then?  What if they're asleep?  Or using the bathroom?  I always assume, anyhow, that I would be the last person someone would want to see, let alone to disturb their peace out of the blue.

So maybe my funny issue with door-knocking led me to think twice about Jesus' statement, "Knock and the door will be opened to you."

This is one of those verses so familiar to us that it is hard to look at it afresh.  In studying this verse recently, I found myself asking, how does it fit with Jesus's statement in Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  If Jesus is knocking on our door, and we are also invited to knock on a door, well, is the Bible describing the same door?  It may sound silly, but I had to reconcile the image in my mind.

First, let's think about Jesus standing at the door and knocking.  There are many artist representations of this scene, such as Holman Hunt's Light of the World or Warner Sallman's Christ at Heart's Door.  But in my mind Jesus is not tapping on some cute cottage door.  He is instead knocking on a door of our own making, a door composed of sin and ignorance, of fear and disobedience.  It is a door we have reinforced with several locks and bolts, all designed to keep Jesus out, and keep our sinfulness safe within.  We may not even know about the door (such as Jacob Marley's unseen chain, forged during a selfish life), but it is there, separating us from God's love.

Yet sometimes we hear the message and we hear the knocking and we find the strength to open that door to Jesus.  When that momentous moment occurs something special happens.  That ugly door is torn down and discarded.  It never has to separate us again.  And yet, the reality remains that we live in a broken world, and so there is still a threshold between where we dwell and where Jesus dwells (though he has dominion over all things).  In his mercy, Jesus gives us a new door, one without locks and bolts.  It is a door we are encouraged to knock upon.  In describing this door, John Wesley spoke of our knocking on "the Gate of Righteousness" (see paragraph 19 of this sermon), and we as believers can be assured that whenever we knock on it, Christ will be there to answer.  Every time.  And every time he answers, he will listen, and act upon our needs. 

Which door is next to you right now?  Have you let Jesus in yet?  If not, unlock the locks and unbar the bars.  Let him in to care for you.  If you already have, then remember the righteous door, made especially for you.  Jesus is right there on the other side.  Whenever you need him, just knock, and the door will be opened to you.

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