SEEKING THE LORD
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. August 18, 1985)
Seeking the Lord Cleanse → Renewed Vision Consecrate → Renewed Commitment Come Near → Renewed Joy
One of the many aspects of the life of a Christian is his private devotion and communion with God. This aspect is so important and yet so under-valued, that many Christians suffer from the absence of a close personal communion with God. To what extent we seek the Lord or whether we seek him at all or not, is a good indication of our spiritual health.
When we first try to find the truth, we are seeking the Lord.
And he has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us;
But then after we have found the truth and obeyed it, our lives as children of God need to be ones of continually seeking the Lord.
One of the best examples of a man who sought the Lord was David. In the Psalms be bares his innermost heart and we see the intensity and fervency with which he sought the Lord.
1 Jehovah is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
Jehovah is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
4 One thing I have desired of Jehovah,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of Jehovah
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of Jehovah,
And to inquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in his pavilion;
In the secret place of his tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to Jehovah.
7 Hear, O Jehovah, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When you said, "Seek my face,"
My heart said to you, "Your face, Jehovah, I will seek."
9 Do not hide your face from me;
Do not turn your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
Psa. 105:1-4 (when planning to build the temple)
1 Oh, give thanks to Jehovah!
Call upon his name;
Make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing psalms to him;
Talk of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek Jehovah!
4 Seek Jehovah and his strength;
Seek his face evermore!
Notice in these verses the prominence of the heart in seeking the Lord. We seek the Lord with our hearts, so it suggests the intimate nature of the communion we have with God. Jeremiah speaking to captive Israel,
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Jehovah, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, says Jehovah, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says Jehovah, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
With all our hearts is something that involves our entire being. Seeking the Lord should be the one on-going endeavor of our lives.
There are many Christians who have a very business-like, matter-of-fact relationship with God, and their religion is rather cold and easily replaced in the range of what is important to them. The problem is that they are not seeking the Lord. And if they are, then it is not with all their heart.
So, if we are not seeking the Lord - we should be, and if we are - then we need to continually seek him with all of our hearts.
What are some things involved with seeking the Lord? How can I go about seeking him more effectively?
I ) Cleanse
First of all, God wants all of you, not just some of you. Peter says that we are a peculiar people. That is a people for God's own possession. Paul, in 1Cor. 6, says that you were bought with a price and you are not your own. That may be true, but we may not act like it. To be God's own possession, we have to be holy.
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a father to you,
And you shall be my sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
So, we need to Cleanse ourselves. We must not be in rebellion if we desire to seek God and come near to him. A lot of us keep trying - and it just does not work. God will not allow it.
What is that one thing or area of your life that God keeps bringing up to you, requiring that you deal with it, and you keep refusing to, or keep putting it off, or making excuses for it? What is it that you may be holding on to, and keeping back? You may think it is just a little thing - but what it is, is your heart in rebellion against God. You may think, well, I have a right to do this if I want - but what is happening is that you are keeping God out of that part of your life. God wants your whole life not just part. If you have something like that, or some sin or uncleanness that you are keeping God out of - then you need to let that go, release your hold on it and give it up to God. That involves dieing to it, taking what you think is your right to it and hanging it on the cross.
Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor his ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden his face from you,
So that he will not hear.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.
II ) Consecrate
Very close to this same idea, but slightly different, is the next thing we need to do after we have cleansed ourselves of everything that stands between us and a close walk with God. When we seek the Lord, we need to Consecrate ourselves to him. That is the idea of dedicating ourselves. Consider which way you are headed. What have you put priority on in your life? Is there anything more important than your service to God? In order to draw near to God - seeking the Lord has to be your primary consideration, the very focus of your life. Again that is the idea of "with our whole heart".
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may discern the will of God, the good and acceptable and perfect.
You know the secret of a congregation that is strong and active and growing? Its membership is made up of Christians who have given everything of themselves to God. It is not something they got together and did - but each one of them, some time in their past, in their private communion with God (without knowing or caring whether anybody else was going to do the same) they decided that they wanted the very best that God could give them, and for that, they gave God everything they had, they gave him their very lives.
I'm not talking about super-christians or fanatics or hermit monks - just ordinary Christians, but with one extraordinary characteristic, they belong completely to God.
The life of a child of God must be something more than a life of attending worship services. It must be a life given to God. Everyday - living that life as a life given to God. That is exactly what he requires. Have you ever wondered what God could do with a body of Christians who had given their lives totally to him? He could turn our town upside-down.
We need to be dedicated to seeking God. That has to be the one most important thing in our life - or we will never make it. That is why Jesus said in Mat.6:33, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you." Other desires will hinder us.
But how do I devote myself to seek God?
A.) Set your affection on things above.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Consider the value of what you have in Christ with what you have in the world.
World Christ Temporary Life Eternal Life Temporary Riches Eternal Riches Temporary Fame Eternal Glory
Make a conscious decision to choose what is best, what is most valuable. Remember the pearl of great price for which a gem hunter was seeking. And when he found it, he went and sold all that he had and bought that pearl. Consider - How much is this jewel of eternal life worth to you? How much is the ruby of meaning and understanding worth? How much is the diamonds of love and peace worth? The world cannot compare with the eternal weight and the exceeding super-abundant riches in glory beyond all human comprehension that we have in God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. If we set our affection there, then we will seek it with all our hearts. We will give everything we have for it.
Again Paul brings in the fact that we are dead. We are dead to the things on the earth, in the world - and our lusts and desires for things in the world are dead too, crucified with Christ. When you are dead, it is easy to seek God and the things above.
B.) Consider whom you are seeking.
In our dedication of our selves, (our consecration) we need to consider whom we are seeking. We are seeding to come near to the very God of the universe. The omnipotent, omniscient, everlasting creator of all, the holy and revered and righteous, the Almighty Jehovah of hosts, the just Judge of all. Keeping those things in mind should keep us in the proper attitude of reverence and awe.
By the word of Jehovah the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear Jehovah;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
Awe of God should give us an appreciation of the unspeakable gift that he has given us in Christ, that by his grace we have access with confidence to his very throne.
III ) Come Near
The third thing we need to do in seeking God - is simply to come near.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
There in one verse is the cleansing, the consecration and the faith that we need to come near. To seek God's face we have to spend time alone thinking deeply about God. Read his word slowly and meditate on his promises and his grace that he has given us.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of Jehovah,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
We have to spend time praying and opening up our hearts to him and being intimate with him. Acknowledging and believing his love for you and responding in loving adoration to him. Spend time applying the truth of your relationship with God to yourself. He is your exalted Father, and you are a new creature, a spiritual son of God, you share his image and you share the hope he has for you to partake of his glory in Jesus Christ.
Acknowledge these things to him and come near. Walk in the truth of who you are and the relationship that you have to God.
IV ) Results
What will be the result of seeking the Lord? Besides what we just went over, we could sum up the results in one word - Renewal.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
That kind of daily renewing can only come when we daily seek the Lord's face and come near to him.
A.) Renewed Vision
We we Cleanse ourselves and give ourselves completely to God - dieing to the world and living unto God - we gain Renewed Vision. Our perspective of our lives, (being dead with Christ and being God's own possession) is sharpened. When sin is crucified and put to death in us we continually gain new insight - because we are not blinded by worldly lusts. We can see God more clearly, and with a good conscience, we can see ourselves and others more clearly too.
B.) Renewed Commitment
When we Consecrate ourselves in drawing near to God we gain a Renewed Commitment. When we set our affection on things above, then we have a better zeal to walk and live our daily lives in that truth. It becomes more of who we really are and not just what we profess to be. When we are totally committed to seeking God, we can unashamedly assume the identity of a vital, living, active, militant, child of God - who has the confidence of knowing who he is.
C.) Renewed Joy
Lastly, when we Come Near to God we gain a Renewed Joy. Having that intimate relationship with God we know we have eternal life, we know that we are walking with him in his will, and that is a cause to rejoice. When we love and keep his word Jesus said that he and the Father come and make their abode with us. This indwelling is through the Spirit who produces the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts.
... whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to take the time to worship God in our daily lives and seek his face continually - being devoted to him, drawing near to him with clean hearts and pure minds. If we want the best that God can supply for us, then we need to give him our all. I do not think we will ever be happy until we do.
O God, you are my God;
Early will I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you;
My flesh longs for you
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for you in the sanctuary,
To see your power and your glory.
Because your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise you.
Thus I will bless you while I live;
I will lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.
When I remember you on my bed,
I meditate on you in the night watches.
Because you have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind you;
Your right hand upholds me.
Seek him with all your heart.
~ Invitation ~