Action Steps

A devotional study on Matthew 7:7-8 at faith-family-food.com

Matthew 7:7-8  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  These words often rank at the top of favorite scriptures lists for Christians.  Who wouldn’t love the idea of being given what we ask for?  And these verses make it sound so easy.  These words are on page 1064 in my Bible, both highlighted and underlined on a page that is faded and thin from repeated readings during times of need.  It was only recently that these words were read by eyes intent on study and wisdom, rather than expectation of a quick fix.  Today I want to focus on these words as being action steps.  Thank you for visiting my page today.

Food For Thought  Have you noticed that three key words from this scripture are verbs?  You remember verbs from elementary language arts, right?  Verbs are the action words of a sentence, the items the subject is expected to do.  Although Jesus is not speaking these words out loud to us today, they are written in scripture for us the “hear.”  We are the subjects and our actions must be to ask, seek, and knock.  Some other verbs that follow the same intended purpose for ask, seek, and knock would include find, obtain, achieve, search, and go.  These are actions that do not happen passively.  That’s the funny thing about verbs.  They require us to take action.  So what is it, exactly, that I’m supposed to do, according to these verses in Matthew 7?

I’m not sure, maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I get frustrated with God.  I love Him always, and I am working on this, but more than a few (dozen) times in my life I have been baffled by the fact that God is not giving me what I think I need or resolving situations that He must be fully aware of!  That’s where that first action step comes in…have I asked God for what I want or need?  In James 4:2, it clears up and confirms this action step, or the lack of action: “You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight.  You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  I placed emphasis on the key point here.  Now I’ve been told twice in scripture that to get what I need or want, I must ask God.  It’s worth repeating!

The next action step mentioned in Matthew 7 is to seek.  When I think of seeking, I think of going out to find something.  Remember the good ol’ days of Hide and Seek with your friends?  You were never going to find your friends if you stayed at the tree and just yelled out to them or did a quick scan of the backyard.  Similarly, I can’t just stand in my prayer room and yell out to God or do a quick scan of His words.  I have to intentionally seek Him and His plans for my life.  I have to bring my mind, my heart, and my senses to full alert so that I will not only know where to find God, but what steps I need to take in order to get what I want and need for my life.  Just like there was repetition for the action of asking, there is at least one more place to find the action of seeking.  In Psalms 53:2, it says, “God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”  Again, I added emphasis on key words.  Now we know that asking and seeking are not mere suggestions, but expectations God has for us.

The final action word we are looking at in this passage is knock.  I appreciate the use of the word knock and the visual understanding of “opening the door.”  When we go to someone’s home, aside from close family, we don’t barge through the door without first knocking politely.  This is like asking permission, may I please come in?  I think using knocking in this passage about asking God for our desires is implying we ask Him for His permission, or blessing, on our requests.  This would be the reasoning we often add “if it’s Your will” to our prayer requests.  Ideally, we want God on board with us when asking for things or making plans.  I am not always good at this.  Okay, that’s a huge understatement!  It’s only been recently that I’ve been asking my requests be in accordance with God’s will, and while it’s still hard for me, I am at the very least more aware of the idea that I need to get my wants and plans in line with God’s wants and plans for me.  If God sees that this request fits in His plan and is good for me, or whomever I happen to be praying on behalf of, He will open that door, allowing me to continue with my desires.  If God thinks my plan needs some tweaking, He may send me around to the “side door,” so to speak.  If it’s not the right plan for me, that door will remain closed, or at least for the time being.  I must remember Romans 12:2 and its description of God’s will–“his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”  Then it’s up to me and my attitude to accept His answer.  Wow, that can be hard sometimes!

If I were to have you take away a main point of all this discussion of verbs in Matthew 7:7-8, it would be that your prayer actions matter.  It will make a difference, if you let it.  I have been seeing it over and over again in my own life.  Ask God for what you want and need.  Seek God in everything you do and in every decision you want to make.  Knock, asking for God’s permission and blessing on your requests.

Today’s Scripture  I have cited a few verses already as I shared my thoughts from Matthew 7:7-8.  Spend as much time as you want or need in these passages because I always want to emphasize following God’s word, not mine.  In addition to these passages, I want to share the following verse, which I believe tells us the most important actions we should take as Christians.

Today’s Recipe  There are plenty of cooking verbs being thrown around in my recipes and on cooking shows–boil, broil, chop, slice, dice, cube, mince, saute’, fry, melt, cream, mix, combine, roast, bake, grill…I could really go on and on!  It can be complicated and confusing, especially with terms that sound similar or mean similar things.  Today’s recipe is going to keep it simple, with terminology, methods, and ingredients.  If you are not familiar with sheet pan dinners, I highly recommend them.  There is little hands-on cooking time and very little clean-up in the kitchen.  The idea is you get all of your meal’s ingredients on one big rimmed baking sheet, meaning that once you get it in the oven, you can head off to do other things (don’t forget to set the timer!)  If you line your pan with aluminum foil, clean up is even easier!  There are so many combinations for these dinners, but today I’m going to share a lemon herb chicken and vegetables dinner.

Lemon Herb Chicken and Vegetables
One bowl, one pan, one oven temperature and you have an easy sheet pan dinner for four.

Roast Lemon and Herb Chicken and Vegetables (a sheet pan dinner for four)

  • 1 large or 2 medium russet potatoes, washed (peeling is optional)
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 6 TBS olive oil (divided)
  • 6 TBS salt-free garlic and herb seasoning (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper (divided)

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a LARGE rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Cut chicken in cubes and place in zip-top bag.  Combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Add this to chicken, close bag and completely coat chicken in mixture; set aside.  Cut potato into cubes and place in large bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Toss potatoes to coat and place on foil-lined pan.  Place potatoes in oven and set timer for 20 minutes.

Place carrots and onions in same bowl.  Add last 2 tablespoons of oil, seasoning, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Toss to coat; set aside.  After potatoes have cooked 20 minutes, remove pan from oven and add carrots and onions to pan.  Cook these for five minutes.

Remove pan from oven and push vegetables to one end of pan and place chicken cubes on other end. 

Return pan to oven and cook an additional 20 minutes.

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