What are You Looking For?

  • “Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11)

    He stared into the open refrigerator for the third time in an hour. “What are you looking for son?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he answered “Something.”

    Something. We’re all looking for “something” and most of us don’t know what that something is. Like my son, we sense a lack, a hunger, a desire – but can’t quite put our finger on what will fill us. He eventually settled on a sandwich, but I knew he would be back before long, looking for “something” more.

    The craving of the soul is far more powerful than the craving of an empty stomach, and the world we live in offers a myriad of things to fill that aching hole. Some of us run after success and all the material things that go along with it – houses, cars, fine things and finer people, vacations in exotic places. For others, it is physical pleasure. This world overflows with sensual pleasures to feed the lustful nature; but lust can never be satisfied and the quest for pleasure becomes an insatiable appetite. Maybe it is power – the hand of authority and influence; or popularity, after all who doesn’t like to be liked? Many have turned to food in excess, or stuff – just piles and piles of stuff. Sadly many lose themselves to the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.

    What is it we really want? What is it that our souls are desperately seeking? A simple statement by Saint Augustine of Hippo answers our questions: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”  It is God that we want. God our hearts crave. Because God created us and put His own image in us, our spirits yearn to be in fellowship with our Creator. That emptiness is meant to cause us to pursue God, but the world steps up with everything else and if we are not earnestly seeking Him we grab hold of what is set before us instead. We were not made for all these other things. We were made for God.

    David understood this. Listen to his words: “O God you are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). David is on the run in the desert from the evil King Saul, who is seeking to take his life. He is thirsty and weary in the dry desert heat, and in his physical needs, he turns to God. Yes, he needs water and rest, but it is the ache in his soul that causes him to cry out to the Lord, to seek his God. Notice his is not just a passing prayer, but he is earnestly seeking, a passionate longing, a determined searching. The original Hebrew offers the image of foraging, like a starving animal seeking food to stay alive. That is the earnest seeking of a man who knows that only God can satisfy him, only God can fill the empty places. God is what David craves. God is what our own empty heart craves.

    What happens when we pursue God this way? Scripture is full of His promises to the earnest seeker. “Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10) God is faithful to the one who seeks Him. “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:3-4). God promises joy and strength when we seek Him. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). God pours out His goodness on those who seek Him. “This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel: ‘Seek me and live’” (Amos 5:4). God offers life to the one who seeks Him. Real life. Abundant life. Eternal life.

    The most precious promise to the seeking heart is found in Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Listen to the very next verse: “I will be found by you” (v. 14). God is inviting us to seek Him, and in the same breath promises to make Himself open and accessible to us. He said “I have not spoken in secret… I have not said…’seek me in vain’” (Isaiah 45:19). Your Creator doesn’t play a divine game of “hide and seek.” He says we can “seek and find.”

    God has been making Himself known since creation. He had made Himself visible in the world around us. Every tree and star and mountain testifies to Him. He had given us His Word, the Bible, and every page is telling the story of God and His love for you and me. As if that were not enough, He sent His Son, Jesus to walk among men and women and children, that we might be able to reach out and touch the very flesh of God, to see His face and hear His voice and – oh, hear this with your heart – to seek you.

    What are you looking for my friend? Listen to your aching heart. Hear the cries of your empty soul. It isn’t wealth or pleasure or power or things that you want. Deep within, you are longing for God, because you were made for Him. Seek Him, and you will find Him, because He has already found you.

     

    Holy Father, my Creator and God, ”You have said to my heart ‘Seek My face!’ Your face Lord, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8). Amen

Fill Me Up Lord!

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.  I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods, with singing lips my mouth will praise You.”   Psalm 63:3-5

I had a conversation recently with my chiropractor, about trying to get off the couch and get moving.  I argued with him, “But I have no energy!”  He told me that when we only use a small amount of energy every day, our body gets accustomed to that and eventually doesn’t demand any more of us.  That is how a “couch potato” is created.  But if we push past that bar we have set, our body will begin to respond to the demand for additional energy and will build a greater energy reserve.  We have to be determined to break the low-energy barrier.

I said, “You know, there is a spiritual application here.” I rolled that thought around in my mind, and this is what God showed me:  If we allow ourselves to become satisfied with just a little bit of God, we will never want more of Him.  But if we push past that bar we have set, our hearts will begin to respond to Him more and more, and we will find that we can never get enough of Him.  We will be filled with His love, and His Spirit will give us new life.

How do we push past that low-level desire?  God has shown us the way in Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek me and find me when You seek me with all your heart.”  The terminology that is used to “seek” God speaks of an intense desire to know Him, and a passionate and determined pursuit of Him.  The wonderful truth is that God promises to reveal Himself to us when we do.  In fact, the original Hebrew says that He will cause us to encounter Him – if we seek Him with all our hearts.  As He reveals more of Himself to us, our love for Him deepens, and our search for the heart of God intensifies more and more.

Jesus tells us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Listen to His promise: “For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)  We often claim this verse for the needs and pursuits of our lives, but I believe this promise has a greater purpose: If we pursue God with this kind of faith and determination, what we ask-more of Him-will be given to us.  You can be assured that if you seek Him, you will find Him.  You have His word on it.

Are you “satisfied” with your relationship with God, or do you long for more?  Turn off the T.V., push yourself up from the couch, and begin to pursue Him.  Get involved in a local church, with faithful attendance.  Join a Sunday school class or Bible study group.  Find a Christian mentor you can learn from.  Establish a daily habit of reading your Bible and praying.   When you make knowing God a priority in your life, He will show you truths you never dreamed of.  Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  This is God’s invitation to know Him, and His promise to reveal things you never even thought to ask about.  This is your invitation to go deeper with God.  Will you seek Him?

 You have said to my heart, “Seek my face!” Your face Lord, I will seek. (Psalm 27:8)

In The Beginning…Faith

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

What is the basis of faith?  What must we know to believe in God?

I had a conversation recently with a friend who was asking some very deep and provocative questions.  He asked me what I believe about the Bible.  Is it true? Is it real?  I told him I believe wholeheartedly in the truth of the Bible, that it is inspired by God, without error and completely trustworthy.  It is the real and living Word of the real and living God.  It has been proven throughout history and time will continue to prove its reliability.

He then asked me about the Biblical account of creation – specifically did I believe that God created the world in 7 days as we understand a 24-hour day, or is the Genesis record of “days” actually much longer stretches of time?  I told him what I thought; but I told him too, that the point of faith is not how long it took God to create the heavens and the earth, but that we believe He did it.

Throughout the Bible, its writers affirm this very basic truth. God addresses Job’s complaints by saying, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation…laid its cornerstone… made the clouds…gave orders to the morning… ?” (Job 38:4, 6, 9, 12)  Acts 17: 24 declares, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” In Hebrews 11: 3 we read, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command…”  The Apostle John wrote: “He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all thing were made…” and again in Revelation 4:11, “You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”    Over and over the Bible declares that “The Lord [is] the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 115:15)

You see, faith is more than knowing exactly how long it took for the universe to be formed.  Faith is knowing Who formed it.  Hebrews 11: 6 says, “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.”  Faith believes that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. (Henry Blackaby, “Experiencing God” and Beth Moore, “Believing God”) Paul said in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

From the beginning of creation, Satan has challenged God by trying to cause the created to doubt the Creator.   His words to Eve still reach the ears of men and women today:  “Did God really…?”   He wants us to doubt the existence of God.  He tries to cause us to doubt the Bible.  Like the philosophers of Athens (Acts 17: 16-33), he sends us chasing for answers that seem religious, but do nothing to encourage us to believe the truth.

There is a new theology forming today, people who choose to believe nothing.  What a sad way to go through life.  What a tragic way to face eternity. I choose to believe God.  I choose to believe the Bible. I choose to live a life of faith that pleases Him.  I choose to seek Him and know Him with all my heart.  I hope that you will choose God too.

God – You are everything You say that You are, and You are everything to me.  Amen.

Go deeper: Genesis 1-2; Job 38-41; Acts 17:16-33