10-14-2017 SEEK YE FIRST
Looking out over the sea of life
I was talking with several friends the other day and one mentioned all the things they were doing in the church, Sunday School, bible study, special events, youth groups. All of these things are good, but as they spoke, Father put one thought into my little pea pickin’ brain “But how’s their time with Me?”
Father put on my heart this AM “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33).
Over the years, in every church God has brought me through, it seems that there is always at least one someone who is involved in almost everything the local church does. Nothing wrong with service in the church but that question hangs in there “How much time do they spend with the Lord?”
It’s always good to hear a great sermon from the pulpit and/or a good discussion with the Sunday School topic. Maybe we even go once or twice during the week for a prayer or bible study session. It’s good we can learn something from these things, but are Sunday Mornings and maybe a couple of hours during the week all we get? It beats absolutely nothing but just how much time do we spend reading the bible for ourselves letting the Holy Ghost open God’s Word up for us, showing us deeper revelation? We can learn “things” and “facts” from others and feel like we have a pretty good handle on our faith, but we need more. We need to let the Holy Ghost open up those deep things of God for us as we read His Word (1 Corinth. 2:10) - personally!
I always remember a story I heard early in my relationship with Father. The man had a ‘prayer closet’, a place where it was just the Lord and him – alone. He went into his closet every day for half an hour or so. The man felt good when he left his closet as life was going well for him and Father enjoyed the time with him. But as time passed, things would come up and the man couldn’t make it to his closet every day and started shortening the time he did spend. Eventually he was able to make it only every other day, then every fourth day, once a week. Time spent shrunk from that half an hour to fifteen minutes to … well eventually the man was no longer coming into his closet at all. Life was becoming so ‘busy’, he just didn’t have the time. He even rationalized that the things he was doing in the church replaced that time in his prayer closet. More time passed then suddenly it seemed as though the whole bottom fell out of the man’s life.
After wallowing in his misery for a very long time, one day he just happened to pass by his prayer closet. He noticed the door slightly ajar and he thought to himself “Hmmm. My prayer closet. I used to have some good times in there with the Lord. Hmmph! Well gotta go. things to get done.”
More time passed and once again he passed the door to the prayer closet. Things had continually gotten worse and this time he thought to himself “Prayer closet. Hmmph! I have half a mind to go on in there and tell God what I think about His abandoning me like He has. Oops! I’m late. Better get moving.” Again, more time passed and the man was becoming very desperate in his situation.
And yet again he passed the door to his prayer closet. But this time he thought he heard his name called so he went in. He stood there looking around the closet and blurted out “God! Why have you abandoned me like this? My life is in shambles, almost completely ruined. I thought You said you would never leave me nor forsake me? Where have you been?”
As he stood there in defiance, shaking his fist angrily at the Lord, he thought he heard his name again but this time, more than just his name. A soft but firm voice “Where have I been? Can you even remember the day you stopped coming in and communing with Me? Do you remember how busy you’ve become to spend even a few minutes with Me? Since that last day you came in, I’ve been here waiting for you with the door ajar but you were always too busy to come in. Yes, you looked at the door a couple of times and once you actually started toopen it, but did you come in? Your life had become more important than Me and look what you’ve done with that life. It wasn’t Me who pulled away, my child. It was you who pulled away from Me. I’ve been here all along waiting for you to come back.
The man was convicted in his heart, repented and amazingly he discovered that he was able to find time with the Lord once again. It wasn’t long before he started making time for his prayer closet and the few minutes he started with started growing. Was his life repaired immediately? It took many years for his life to crumble, it had been a process of drawing farther and farther away from the Lord. Even though Father could make everything right ‘suddenly’, Father knew it would take time for the man to once again yield his life over to Him. So as the man yielded himself over to the Father, through Jesus Christ, he followed the Holy Spirit’s lead and, after a while, he was once again enjoying God’s presence in his life. Oh, and yes, Father started blessing the man for his obedience his life did eventually pull back together.
Once we determine to seek God, we find the only way to really discover Him is to yield to Him.
So how do we yield to Him? By repenting and renouncing our wrongdoing, improving the quality and frequency of our communication with Him and becoming more and more familiar with the bible so we become better equipped to repent, communicate and learn who Father really is.
When we originally come to the Lord, we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). This, of course, is always the first step in seeking the kingdom of God. However, once saved, it is too easy to eventually fall into a routine and become comfortable where we are. Maybe we aren’t taught to do better or maybe we just don’t seem to have the drive to push forward. Unfortunately, we may come to the decidion that coming to church whenever the doors are open is sufficient. After all, the pastor always preaches a good sermon at every service. Maybe we get more bible exposure during Sunday School and there we can even ask questions sometimes. I feel good when I leave so I’m OK. Right? But where is that personal relationship with our heavenly Father?
All too often, moving into a “comfort zone” leads to us slacking off or not reading the bible for ourselves, so much, so our growth is stunted or so slow a snail meandering through molasses passes us by.
So, even though we’ve been in the church for a while, we feel that something is missing. It probably is – a real relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
So how do we get on track, or maybe back on track? It isn’t hard, but it does take discipline.
Repent and renounce our wrong doing
We need to be honest with ourselves about where our relationship with God really is. That means taking a serious look at discovering any unconfessed sins which may have crept back in since salvation. If we haven’t been walking with God, we may not even realize what has snuck back in while we weren’t looking so we need to confess those sins and turn away from them (Prov. 28:13), true repentance, so God will blot them out (Acts 3:19) and put them behind His back (Isa. 38:17).
Incidentally, this is good practice anytime we realize we have sinned so we can keep a clean slate with our Father. The prophet Nathan brought to King David’s attention his infidelity with Bathsheba, David was convicted in his heart and repented (2 Sam. 12-13). And don’t forget, when we mess up, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous (1 John 2:1).
Keeping our slate clean is part of walking daily with the Lord. Yielding is living for Him
The Holy Ghost teaches and reminds us of the things we need to know (John 14:26) and guides, or leads, us (John 16:13). So yielding to Jesus is listening to the Holy Ghost and then doing what He says (James 2:18).
We yield to the Father because He has brought us from the destiny of the lake of fire (Rev: 20:12-15) into eternal life through Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:13).
Yielding to Him is living for Jesus and He has laid some guidelines like not putting on a big show for people but doing things because we love God (Matt. 6:1-34). Whom we serve we yield ourselves to and to whom we yield ourselves to we serve (Matt. 6:24).
As we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Prov.; 3:6).
And as we continue to yield to Him, we should find ourselves rejoicing in Him. We should find ourselves always in a prayerful attitude and we should be thankful because we would be living in His will (1Thess. 5:16-18).
Increasing our quality of time and the frequency of our communication with Him
God appreciates the “quiet” time He shares with us. Often Jesus would go off by Himself to a quiet place (Mark 1:35), at times praying all night by (Luke 6:12) and often by Himself (Matt. 14:23). Father appreciated that “quiet” time with His Son and so He also does with His sons and daughters.
So when we pray with God, we should always maintain that prayerful attitude thanking Him for who He is and what He’s done for us (Col.4:2).
We should pray not just in our own language, but in the Spirit, that heavenly language Father gives us with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, being vigilant as we pray (Eph. 6:18).
We pray in the Spirit for the Spirit intercedes for us when we can’t find the words to say (Rom. 8:26-27) for He compares Spiritual things to spiritual things (1 Corinth. 2:13).
Father tells us not to neglect being together with other Christians for there is strength in the body (Heb. 10:25). Where two or more are gathered, He is in the midst (Matt. 18:20). There is strength in numbers so we should be diligent to spend time with Him not only alone but with our brothers in the Lord, as well.
Read the bible to Increase our knowledge of Him
There are two ways to get to know God better. Our prayer life and reading the bible so we can better understand who He is and what our relationship should be. Prayer is a two way street. We pray then God responds and vice versa. If we are still and quiet when we first sit down, Father may speak first. But how can we be sure who we are hearing if we don’t who He really is? When we first meet someone, we learn about them by talking, sharing information about ourselves and receiving information about them. This is where the bible comes in for it describes God’s nature throughout. From Genesis to Revelation. When God speaks in the bible, He reveals His thoughts, His hopes, His plans and His intents for us and He works with us as long as we yield to Him. If you have a “red letter” bible, read all of Jesus’ quotes and the gospel of John for they reveal a lot concerning the relationship God desires with us. The bible helps us grow (1 Tim. 3:16).
When Father prompted Abraham to go to a new place (Gen. 12:1) or gave Moses the law (Exod. 20:1-17), He was revealing Himself to us. And that’s not to forget the prophets, Psalms and Proverbs and the rest of the Old Testament. Take a closer look at the letter that Paul and the other disciples wrote. It all describes the relationship Father desires with us today.
So here’s a quick, partial, synopsis of who God is:
God is love so if we say we know God, His love should reflect in our lives (1 John 4:7).
We live in His love by keeping His commandments - which are to love (John 15:10).
Father always was, is and forever shall be, Alpha and Omega (Rev:1:8).
We believe the bible so we believe He is creator of all things (Gen. 1:1 & Col. 1:10-16).
He is righteous in all His ways – He always does what is right (Psalms 145:17). Who thinks God is righteous? Pharaoh when he released Israel from Egypt (Exod. 9:27), Reheboam, king of Israel (2 Chron. 12:5-6), Jesus (John 17:25), Paul (Acts 17:22-31) and the angels of heaven (Rev. 16:5) all declare God righteous. Even the heavens declare God’s righteousness (Psalms 97:1-6).
Father is a just God (Isaiah 45:21).
But He desires our complete devotion (1 Corinth. 18:18-22) which can be expressed by our attitude as with Martha’s sister Mary when she sat at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42).
And when we are disobedient His wrath may come upon us (Eph. 5:6).
However, He is longsuffering towards us that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
This is why we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7) and should we ‘stumble’ we have Him as an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).
And all this doesn’t even scratch the surface. For He also heals us, provides for us, guides us, comforts us and He will never leave us nor forsake us. And yet there is more.
So, if we are just starting our relationship with the Lord, or are coming back after an “absence” we need to keep our slate clean by acknowledging, confessing, repenting of and renouncing our part in any sins that may be in our life then receive that forgiveness and forget them – just as God does.
We need to (re)discover how Father wants us to live, in His love, what that means, then do it.
This is enhanced through better communication with Him Pray in our own language (with understanding), in the spirit (God’s given language through the baptism of the Holy Ghost), alone and with other Christians.
And, of course, we need to understand that we are indeed communicating with Father and we gain this knowledge by reading and letting the Holy Spirit bring us to an understanding of what the bible says.
All of this helps us to “SEEK YE FIRST” the kingdom of God and His righteousness so we can receive what He does have for us and live our lives more fully (John 10:10).