Seeking The LORD…
One of the most important lessons in the Bible
is that God made & saved His people in order to know Him…
personally, intimately, deeply, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, experientially.
We are to seek God like that, not only intellectually, not as a concept or cadaver
but as a Person.
104 times in Bible: the words “seek God,” “seek Lord,” “seek His face.”
Acts 17:26-27: 26From one man [God] made all the nations,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
27God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him & find him, though he is not far from any one of us…”
Acts 15:15-18: 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’—18 things known from long ago” (Amos 9).
Romans 3:9-12: 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage?
Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike
are all under the power of sin.
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.”
[One of the main characteristics of being under the power of sin: not seeking God]
Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Matthew 6:33:“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Psalm 27:8: “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Not just getting stuff from God, but knowing Him.
- The post office can deliver boxes of stuff to me every day,
but that doesn’t mean I know the Postmaster General.
Oh that we would cry out to God: “I am in such great need…
please don’t just send me Your presents by parcel…
deliver to me Your presence in Person…”
This is what we are to seek in 2018 & however long the LORD gives us on earth—
we are to seek Him.
John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life:
that they would know You, the One true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
The Lord Jesus gives us the simple & clear definition of eternal life,
He answers the age-old questions,
- “Why are we here,
- What is the purpose of life,
- What does it mean to be alive?”
Psalm 27:4: One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
ONE THING does David desire: not more money, not victory, not power,
not even an end to his suffering—
he simply desires to seek the LORD and gaze upon His beauty,
to KNOW HIM BETTER!!! WOW!
This is what Job meant when he said about the LORD,
“Though He slay me, yet I will praise Him” (13:15).
No matter what He does TO me, I know what He has done FOR me—
so I will praise Him!
No matter what happens to me in life,
I know what He allowed to happen to Him to give me new and eternal life—
so I will praise Him!
Those are the words of a man who knows the LORD,
who has sought Him, before, during and after deep suffering…
Why does this matter?
Because motion & speed do not necessarily mean life.
- A plummeting bird is moving rapidly but is nonetheless dead.
Busily doing things for the Lord Jesus
doesn’t necessarily mean that we are IN the Lord Jesus,
that we have been saved by Him,
that we know Him…
Luke 10:38-42—Mary & Martha: “Mary has chosen what is better
[sitting at the Lord’s feet & listening to Him],
and it will not be taken from her.”
Matthew 7:21-23: “Depart from Me, evildoers; I never knew you…”
[though they did miracles in His name!]
This is what the Lord Jesus died to give us:
- yes, forgiveness!
- yes, spiritual rebirth!
- yes, adoption into God’s family!
But all of that is for the even bigger goal: giving us access to the Father:
Ephesians 2:18: For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
This is why when He died on the cross, the curtain in the Temple
was torn in two from top to bottom—
those who receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior & King
have personal access to the Father,
can enter into the Holy of Holies,
can approach His throne of grace with confidence.
Becoming a Christian is nothing less than being “IN Christ.”
Not next to Christ, but us IN Him and He IN us.
This is crucial, my dear friends,
and that is why this sermon is so appropriate at the start of a new calendar year:
we must get our priorities re-aligned.
Our central purpose for being alive is to know God personally.
Every other purpose flows from that root,
every other benefit is a branch from that central tree trunk.
Jeremiah 31:33-34: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
How do we do this/what does this look like?
1 Chronicles 16:8-14:
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;:
[to seek Him is to praise Him!]
make known among the nations what he has done.
[to seek Him is to tell others about Him!]
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
[Rinse & Repeat! Praise Him, tell others about Him!]
10 Glory in his holy name;
[to seek Him is to glory in His holy name,
that is, to constantly think about & revel in
Who He is & what He has done & what He will do for His people!
To glory in something is to bask in it.
- When a person glories in their physical appearance—
this is idolatry, but I use it as an example—
when they glory in their appearance they stare at themselves in the mirror,
constantly think about, enhance, maintain & focus on their looks.
We are instead to think about & focus on the LORD.
To glory in our accomplishments
is to stare at and get comfort from what we have achieved—
our trophies, our stuff, our position in a company or society.
We are instead to do that to the LORD,
what He has achieved for us by grace alone thru faith alone,
what He has promoted us to:
adoption as His children, promoted from death to life!
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Rejoice AS we seek Him with all our hearts—we WILL find Him!
- Children rejoice as they seek for easter eggs…
they KNOW there are plenty of eggs,
they know they will find them eventually,
and so the search is FUN.
They can’t wait to find the eggs and enjoy what is inside.
We are to do the same as we seek the LORD,
we WILL find Him & enjoy HIM!!!
11 Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
To seek the LORD is to look at Him and His strength—
His past actions and His future guarantees of action.
Don’t look for the strength within you—utter nonsense—
we have no strength in us apart from Him!
Look to the LORD & HIS strength!
Draw strength each moment from
Who He is what He promises His people who repent of their sins & seek Him…
12 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
13 you his servants, the descendants of Israel,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
14 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
To seek Him is to remember His faithfulness & accomplishments,
to look in the Bible at God’s resume,
His unique qualifications to be God…
How do I know if I’m seeking Him & knowing Him better?
Excerpt of Archibald G. Brown, by Iain Murray, p.p. 205-206…
Circa 1906: “After having looked at the camels being watered,
and noticed the singular encampment that we formed at the al-fresco luncheon,
I wandered a little way on, and saw an Eastern shepherd;
there he was with his turban and loose garment,
with the girdle round his loins, staff in hand—
just as I had so often seen in pictures, for in the East nothing changes.
And the thought that came into my mind was this:
I would like to test the man and see whether the Eastern shepherd
really has the power which is attributed to him of calling sheep by name.
Is it, after all, only a pretty fable, an exquisite little fancy, a ministerial illustration,
or is it a sober fact?
A few coppers greatly helped us in our finding out,
and then by means of signs—two or three had joined me—
we got him to understand what we wanted him to do.
Standing up he gave a strange cry...it was a call,
and in a moment a sheep which must have been fifty odd yards away bounded forward,
came leaping over the stones,
and in a few seconds had put its nose into the shepherd’s hand
which had some crumbs of bread in it,
and the sheep ate and went off.
Directly after he gave another call,
and from an opposite direction another sheep came;
and so time after time until there was not the least room to doubt the fact
that the shepherd new his sheep by name,
and that they perfectly understood their own name,
and recognized his voice.
As I stood in that glorious sunshine watching this Eastern shepherd
it seemed to me that I heard the Lord’s voice saying,
‘My sheep hear My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.’”
THAT is where we can get to in our growing closer to the LORD,
THAT & nothing less is what we are to seek:
- hearing His Voice and following Him,
- picking His Voice out of the noise of the culture,
- Him knowing our name and us deeply knowing His…
Teammates can get to this point in sports:
the crowd is going nuts,
there’s no way to hear each other’s physical voice on the field,
but a twitch of the eye, a glance, a motion with the head,
and they understand what the other is saying,
the play that is being communicated.
We must settle for NOTHING LESS than this closeness with the LORD,
formed over a lifetime of listening to Him & seeking Him thru
- regular Bible reading,
- quiet stillness,
- practical daily obedience, and
- the Holy Spirit…
Seeking the LORD & knowing Him/His Voice
always comes back to reading the Bible regularly.
Thats the main way we seek Him/know Him…
to know what He said, what He has revealed.
There is an experiential aspect to knowing God and it is beautiful and real.
But feeling Him is not the main way that we know Him—
we often think it is, but it isn’t.
- Fireworks are fantastic,
but after they are done it is STILL 4th of July/Independence Day—
still reason to celebrate after the lights dim!
And so we know Him mainly
by knowing what He said.
And we can only know what He has said
by reading what He has said.
Some say or think: “I don’t read the Bible much, but I’m close with God—
I know Him well, He’s with me every moment of the day!”
Oh my dear friend,
you only know He’s with you every moment
because He said He would be
(Matthew 28:20, Deuteronomy 31:6)!
Thinking we can grow close to theLORD
without (or barely) reading His Word simply isnt accurate…
Have you ever said this to a family member or close friend?
“You know, ever since I stopped listening to your words, I just feel extra close to you…
Really! It’s so cool:
when I look back, you & I really started connecting more deeply
the moment I started tuning out your voice & ignoring what you say!”
Do deployed soldiers feel closer to their spouse & children
when they are away for a year or more
& have limited opportunity to listen & talk?
Do they hope to get deployed as often as possible
so they can grow closer to their families?
Even in a text-message culture where some friends
do more texting than actual talking, this still proves the point:
communication that is vital to
establishing, maintaining & strengthening the friendship
happens through words,
received & responded to,
though typed instead of talked.
What would happen to an earthly friendship
if we rarely read a friend’s texts, rarely responded,
rarely engaged, rarely acknowledged?
It would weaken the friendship, put it on life-support.
And so it is with the LORD as well!
He has text messages in the Bible waiting for each of us every moment of the day!
To establish, maintain & strengthen the friendship…
Why does Christ constantly say, “Those who have ears to hear,
listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches”?
(Revelation 2: verses 7, 11, 17, 29; Revelation 3: verses 6, 13, 22)
In John 15:7, the Lord Jesus connects
remaining in Him with His words remaining in us!
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you…”
Let’s make the choice to read His Voice.
Read the Word of God to know the God of the Word.
But I don’t understand the Bible, you might say,
it’s confusing/I don’t get anything out of it.
Keep reading, keep praying, keep studying, keep putting it into practice—
the LORD will give you wisdom & understanding in His time!
Just don’t quit…
if you don’t understand a subject in school,
the worst thing to do is stop attending class & reading the text book!
Please consider Hebrews 5 & ask the LORD if this is true of you:
11 We have much to say about this,
but it is hard to make it clear to you
because you no longer try to understand.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.
You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant,
is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use
have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
My chief prayer for everyone at this local church:
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power thru his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts thru faith.
[As other pastors have pointed out, Paul is not referring to salvation in this verse.
He is writing to Christians who already have God living in them thru His Holy Spirit.
Paul is referring here to a deeper knowing of Christ, a deeper fellowship with Him.
- Just as a person on a beach is in the Pacific Ocean.
- But what a difference it is being in one inch of water
or being in the middle of the ocean with literally 30,000 FEET
of depth & life beneath you,
diving into those depths and
finding pearls and marine life that cannot live on the shore.
Don’t stay on the beach in your walk with Christ—sail out & dive in the DEEP!]
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Paul prays for power from God to grasp His love more fully…
These Ephesian Christians had been blessed to grasp enough of God’s love
to receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior & King,
but they needed more power from the LORD to further grasp His limitless love,
- just as trained/experienced pearl divers can hold their breath
for up to four minutes underwater,
they can dive 100 feet deep and more!
- But there are machines–submarines and other specialized craft–
that can enable humans to dive THOUSANDS of feet deep,
deeper than they are able to go alone…
THAT is the power Paul prayed for,
and that is what we need to pray for as well
so we can dive deeper & deeper
into personally knowing the LORD of heaven & earth…