Reading : Psalm 90:1-17.
2Ch 7:14 "if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
Heb.11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Seek the LORD
There are many references in the Bible to "seeking the LORD", to "seeking God", or to "seeking his face". And these references address the subject from a variety of different angles which when taken together give us really quite a full picture of what is involved in "seeking the LORD".
That full picture Includes:
straightforward commands – we are told to seek God
explanations of why we should seek him
descriptions of what seeking him is like – what is to characterise the manner of our seeking
encouragements and promises related to seeking God
typical responses to such exhortations
Now in our regular everyday lives we are often taken up with seeking things – for example, at the moment with the government telling us to avoid unnecessary social contact we are having to take steps to ensure that we have the provisions and supplies we need. We can learn from the way in which we almost, without thinking, seek the mundane things of everyday life to perhaps help us in the much more important matter of seeking God.
Imagine a couple of scenarios:
1 A friend of ours has a birthday coming up and we've had a great idea of a present we want to buy for them. So we take ourselves off into Canterbury and we start our search. We have a precise idea – perhaps it's a bottle of Chanel N°5 or perhaps it's a tin of WD-40 it doesn't really matter, what matters is that we have a clear idea, and that helps us know where to look. The Chanel perfume probably won't be found in a Poundshop or in a diy store and the WD-40 won't be in the children's section of M&S.
Knowing what we want will affect where we look.
Of course if you asked someone else to shop for you you might first off have to inform them just what Chanel N°5 and what WD-40 actually are. In other words this search, this seeking, presupposes that we know what we are looking for.
When we seek for God we must similarly know what or rather who he is. And this information is readily at hand in the Bible which tells us what he is like. In particular the best picture of all is found in the person of Jesus Christ – so we will want above all to take note of what is said about him. Indeed "seeking the LORD" will mean us coming to Jesus Christ in heartfelt faith because all the promises of God are yes and amen in him – we are not to try to seek God any other way than by Jesus Christ who is the only way ad the only one by whom we come to the Father.
2. The second scenario to think about is this: you already in possession of something but you've misplaced it or no longer have it to hand. Perhaps you wear glasses and you've put them down somewhere and you can't find them. So you set yourself to seeking them. And you do this methodically. You don't leave the house, jump on a bus and choose a stop at random and begin your search there but you try to remember where you had been the last time you were using the lost spectacles. You go back to the kitchen table where you were looking at the newspaper, you try your bedside table. Once again you know what you're looking for – you had them in the past but now something has happened and you need to find them again. In the earlier example you may never ever have bought Chanel N°5 before – finding it in the shop will be a new experience for you but finding your glasses again is different it will mean a renewal of an experience that has already been enjoyed.
Now, I want to suggest that the Bible speaks about seeking God in both of these ways – we are to seek him with a view to finding him for the very first time and we are to go on subsequently seeking him that our experience of him might be continually renewed and refreshed. Maybe you’ll remember what Peter preached one day to his fellow countrymen. He said to them:
Acts 3:19-20 "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,"
So this morning all I propose to do is to look at a few Bible verses that speak to us about seeking God and to see what they have to tell us. At a time when many of us are more shut-in than usual we will have more time on our hands – there could be no better way to use some of that free time than to seek the Lord.
Exhortations to seek the LORD
Our manner is to be joyful and urgent and we have plenty of promises and encouragements to help us in our endeavour:
Seek the Lord with rejoicing – why? Because he is there, it is he who calls upon us to seek him and he doesn't play hide and seek with us. There are times when we go Christmas shopping and we don't go rejoicing because we don't have a clue really what we're looking for and so have no real expectation of finding anything suitable. But we go seeking God knowing that he exists and that he rewards those who do seek him. He has made himself known to countless men and woman down through the centuries as they have come to him in Jesus' name and we have every reason to believe that he will deal with us in similar ways.
Seek the Lord wholeheartedly – with all our faculties. Not half-heartedly but don't let's fall into the trap of imagining that he is at our beck and call – he makes himself known and reveals himself when we earnestly seek him not because we seek him
Seek the Lord urgently – a time may well come when to do this will be difficult, or when we are less inclined to do so.
Seek the Lord now - Strike while the iron is hot!
Seek the Lord in all kinds of circumstances
Seek the Lord continually
Let me read you some of the verses that speak to all of this:
Deut.4:29 "you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Ps.27:8 "You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek.""
1Chron.16:10-11 "Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!"
1Chron.22:19 "Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God."
Is.55:6 "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;"
Ps.77:2 "In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;"
Benefits flow from seeking the LORD
We need a clear focus, and we must take heed of warnings too. Some of the exhortations come with a "lest…" attached!
Here are some of the blessings associated with seeking the LORD. The one who seeks the LORD will
Lack no good thing
Know righteousness and justice
Ps.34:10 "The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
Prov.28:5 "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely."
Hos.10:12 "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you."
Amos 5:4 "For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live."
And the choice was a clear one for God's OT people – they could choose to seek him in his way or they could choose the way of man-made religion. The consequences however would be completely different.
Ps.9:10 "And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you."
If we are so warmly and persistently exhorted to seek the LORD we are not to imagine that failure to do so unimportant. Failure at this point is not a neutral thing – it is wrong not to seek the LORD.
And failure to seek the LORD can take place in at least two different ways: it can happen when, as we have just seen, the people of God were actively considering "seeking" another way forward. They were in real danger of following a false religion. But simply avoiding fullscale adherence to another religion is by no means the same as seeking the LORD.
2Chron.12:14 "And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD."
This is a description of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, he had great privileges but what a mess he made of things by his failure to take advantage of them and to seek the LORD.
2Chron.15:12-13 "And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, but that whoever would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman."
Asa on the other hand a number of years later did take matters very seriously indeed and along with the people was ready to take drastic action against those who would not seek God!
The Exhortations and Invitations are very broad
The call to seek the LORD is not a once for all measure! Of course for all of us there must come that time when we seek the LORD for the very first time.
This will mean that we take God at his word and rely upon what he tells us:
It will mean that we believe him to exist and to be ready to relate to his creatures.
It will mean that we will agree with his revelation of himself as upright and holy and with his diagnosis of us as sinners deserving judgment.
It will mean that we will declare our need of the Saviour he has sent even Jesus
And it will mean that we will humbly ask him to do for us what we have absolutely no hope of doing for ourselves – to deal with our sin and make us new people.
We all must do that seriously in our lives and not be content until we know that he has dealings with us according to his promise – there is a real personal experiential aspect to this – not that we measure our spiritual pulse by any old kind of spiritual experience but we recognise that God's dealings with returning sinners is something in his control and not ultimately in ours.
We seek him by going to in relying on the promises of his word and counting upon them and pleading with him to keep them!
Have we all sought the LORD in this way?
But that does not mean we have finished with the matter of seeking the LORD. The Scriptures urge us to go on seeking, to seek continually, to seek in all kinds of situation. Sometimes this will be because we have taken our eye off the ball and we've slipped up and need to refocus, sometimes it comes because we've backslidden and tolerated sin in our life which has caused the LORD to withdraw a sense of his favour from us. Sometimes the LORD may simply want to draw us closer still into the enjoyment of the wonderful riches he has granted us in Jesus Christ.
When was the last time you deliberately sat down and reflected on your blessings in Christ and realised that your appreciation of them was greater now than it had been before? The salvation that we have in Jesus Christ is a great salvation – the love that brought it to us is described as being a four dimensional love – a grateful heart will want to express its thanks and to do so we will have to, we will long to, seek his face.
And none need be excluded:
Ac 15:17 "that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things."