Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What God Wants From Us In 2015, Part 2

Last time, we spoke about Loving God. Today, we learn about Seeking Him.

Oh, that we would all seek Him...earnestly, desperately seek Him.

Job 5:8-9 “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number."

Is he lost, that we must seek Him? On the contrary, he's ever-present, and we're lost.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."

Why must we seek Him, if he's always there?

The problem lies not with God, but with us--we are like the Israelites.

Psalm 14:2-3 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

God parts the sea and provides for us time and again, yet we forget so quickly. We are hungry for something from God, but we're not hungry for God (unless we're in trouble). We build our idols and focus on them, for they're tangible and enticing, giving us a quick high that keeps us coming back for more. No patience, that's us. We want fulfillment without commitment, so we keep chasing the empty promises the enemy whispers in our ears, never finding lasting joy in them.

Commitment requires that we be intentional. Instead, we want to be on auto-pilot. Intimacy doesn't come that way--it's a reward for our diligently seeking Him.

Moses went up to the mountain to see God, and in his absence, the very people the Lord brought out of Egypt did something shocking. They busied themselves building idols.

What?! Who does that after crossing through a parted sea to safety, after which the Lord destroyed the enemy with the falling waters? Who witnesses such a miracle and is saved, only to then build and worship some calf? Stupid, eh?

That's us. Stupid. Did you know sheep (that be us) are incredibly stupid? They aren't aware when they wander away, and they have no sense of direction to get back. Unlike most animals, they have no concept of a predator. When a wolf comes, they don't skitter away nervously. Oh, no. They just stay put, oblivious. Without the shepherd, they are dead, for they can do nothing to save themselves.

And do they warm up to him and love him? Oh, no. They're likely to bite him.

I told my children these facts one day, after hearing them in a sermon. They were indignant, not wanting to be compared to stupid sheep.

That's another thing about us. We don't want to need God, despite having His resume in hand, knowing what it promises on our behalf. Our own neediness disgusts us and terrifies us, so we run from it, instead of giving thanks for the Shepherd, who is Love.

Pride is a huge obstacle for us all. Humility leads to the Lord. Pride leads to death.

Lamentations 3:25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Who can we emulate? Who can teach us to seek the Lord?

I believe David's our man. David couldn't stop writing Psalms--love poems to God. He loved the Lord and felt the Lord so vividly. He had to write about Him or he'd burst. As you read David's Psalms, you begin to understand what seeking God is like, and the reward waiting for those who do it.

Psalm 63:1 (A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.) O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 34:1-22 (Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away). I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 27:8 (of David) You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Psalm 40:16  (Of David) But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

Psalm 16:11 (Of David) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 34:10 (Of David) The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

There are obstacles in your life and in mine, that are in the way of our seeking God. If you get your notebook started in the first post, and write down the obstacles in your life--the idols--which prevent you from earnestly seeking the Lord, I believe, along with confession and repentance, it will be a first step to modeling our hearts after David's.

We can't just acknowledge these idols--we need to ask God's forgiveness, and plead with him to put us on the seeking path. There is something to find on this path. It's not a mirage we're after, but living water. Never-ending, never-stopping, always-available, living water.

Amos 5:4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;

1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

John 7:38  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Where do we seek God?

1. Through Creation - “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

2. Through Prayer - Prayer is not one-sided, but a conversation with the Holy Spirit--a communing with the Holy Spirit. We are in His presence when we pray. God doesn't need our prayers to decide what to do. We need our prayers to become one with the Lord.

3. Through Praise - When you start praising God, he fills you up. He meets your soul directly and lifts it up to the heights, like you've never known. During and after a praise session, you want for nothing, spiritually or physically.

4. Through the Holy Word - John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

That's right...the Word was God. Open your Bible and meet the Lord right there on the page. 

5. Through His Son - God sent his Son, Jesus, so we would understand who God is. Jesus is the way--the way out of condemnation, the way out of separation from God. Jesus is our escort, our teacher, our Savior. He is the gateway. Go through Him--i.e. read the Gospels--and you will experience God and know Him.

Prayer Time: 

Dear Heavenly Father, we repent. We are sorry for our wayward-sheep habits, for being dumb Israelites all over again. Forgive us and restore us to intimacy with you. Our seeking and finding is a spiritual gift from you, and we thank you. We love you. May we seek your face, gaze on your loveliness, feel your sufficiency, Teach us to love you, to trust you, to obey you, to see you in your Creation, teach us to pray, to praise, to read your Holy Word, to experience your Son. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

I leave you with some quotes I encountered in my studies.

John Piper: Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.

John Piper: His face — the brightness of his personal character — is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires. This condition is always ready to overtake us. That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.” God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth.

Charles Spurgeon: "There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus—humility, happiness, and holiness."

Dan Jarvis: But it's not about Bible reading checklists or stopwatch prayer commitments. Seeking God's face is personal; it is an attitude of longing, willingness, and discontent with anything less than spiritual intimacy.

1 comment:

Tesha Papik said...

Awesome, inspiring post!