Isaiah 65:10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have SOUGHT me.
We are called to seek God. Seeking means to frequently resort to, seek with care, inquire, to practice, study, follow, seek with application, search for, investigate, and crave. It’s a passionate endeavor in which we are committed to going deeper and deeper into the truths of God and into Him. It’s about Him. It’s about our individual relationship to Him. It’s a voyage into His Word being taught by the Holy Spirit that alters our existence. This quest leads us into His unfathomable presence until we are consumed by Him therefore one with Him. John 17:21-23
The general ill-assumption is that once you are “saved” anything else is “extra”, but this thought leads to a belief that is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:2 For years, this mentality was mine. Oh, I did the “right” Christian duties so satisfy my “requirements” before God, but I wasn’t seeking God, so I wasn’t doing what God requested. I didn’t seek God as my first love. Deep down, I didn’t understand my need to seek. I learned from the pulpit that what I was doing was sufficient. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
The majority of us lack or have lacked the understanding of the significance of seeking God. First, it isn’t made clear from the pulpit; actually the opposite is reinforced. Second, it’s widely accepted as part of this “extra” mentality. Therefore, many called by God’s name lack earnestness in seeking Him, because they’ve learned it isn’t necessary and not important. Thus the ill-assumption follows that not much comes out of it. When you consider it, this mindset doesn’t make any sense. When you read the entire Word of God being taught by the Spirit, it REALLY doesn’t make sense. Yet, we are too busy to abide in His Word and seek, so we remain blind to how upside down our thinking is. We heap up teachers and think this is seeking God. 2 Timothy 4:3. We faithfully go to church and think this is seeking God. We have been grossly led astray in our beliefs, and many are suffering because of it.
This mindset that seeking God is “extra” contradicts what a true reconciliation and union with God entails. True unity with God is seeking Him with all our heart, soul and mind. It’s putting Him first and nourishing a relationship with Him where He becomes our first love. Whether we seek Him or not affects the destiny and state of our souls.
In Isaiah 65, it addresses those called by God’s name (you and me) and the ramifications of seeking God or not. The consequences to seeking Him in truth are throughout the Bible, especially blatant in the Old Testament among the prophets who spoke of our days.
For those who DON’T SEEK God’s face, what is in store: (These are people who will draw near with their mouths and go through the actions of what they should do, but don’t truly seek God’s face)
For those who DO SEEK God’s Face:
Sing for joy of heart
God tells us to seek Him. He tells us what will happen if we don’t. He calls us to seek to Know Him as He is. No one can seek for us. It’s an intimate act between each person and God. God designed it that way. It’s not about more teachers or more programs; it’s about coming to God one-on-one abiding in His pure Word with the Spirit as our teacher. It’s about pouring out our heart before God, allowing Him into the depths of our soul, and Him pouring His life into us. It’s allowing the Word to penetrate every area of our soul and life. It’s daily coming face to face with God Almighty. Isaiah 29:13
We are called to seek God with all our heart, soul and mind. It’s a one-on-one interaction; our heart after His seeking Him and abiding in His Word, the entire Word that reveals His heart to us. It’s talking, asking, digging, and listening. It’s about a real, deep, honest and growing relationship, the most important one we have.
Seeking isn’t “extra” – it’s life. Our souls depend on it. Take time to seek and you’ll see.
Amos 5:4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live.”
Psalm 14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
Below is a video on how to listen to the Holy Spirit in your life. We’ve been given a tremendous gift in Holy Spirit – but if we don’t tune in and learn to listen – it is a gift left unopened. The Spirit is given to God’s children – to teach, guide, lead, comfort and help. Through the Spirit we gain tremendous insight that helps us in every area of our lives. Please take a few mintues to watch the video.
A friend shared this with me and I’m passing it along because I found it encouraging and a great description of what I feel many of us are facing in our circumstances.
God gave Abraham a startling command. “Take your promised son and offer him in sacrifice!”
During his three days’ journey to the place of sacrifice, Abram came to the conviction that, if God required him to offer Isaac, He was also able to raise him up from the dead.
So he bound Isaac with cords and laid him upon the altar. Just as Abraham raised his knife to kill his son, an authoritative voice from heaven said, “Do not lay a hand upon the boy.” Abraham looked and saw a ram caught by its horns.
As a result of these events, Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh “the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14). Jehovah Jireh is not a personal name of God, but rather, the name of a place where God appeared. Still, it is a name that we ascribe to God. The name means God sees to everything beforehand. We never have a need that is not already met.
The key to discovering God to be our Jehovah Jireh is to give up our Isaac, the thing that is dearest to us. It’s praying, “Lord, You know what I want, and You love me better than I love myself. I choose Your provision over my own.”
When we willingly give up our deepest desire, then, and only then, can we discover that God’s provisions are always better than we could imagine.
For instance, God’s provisions always look ahead much further than we can see. If we were allowed to design our blessings, we would ask for blessings prematurely or for blessings too small. God often withholds what we ask because He has higher plans for us that we can imagine.
He may lead us through what would seem to be unkind, unfair, and totally unnecessary paths. Suddenly He brings us to a turn in the road, where we’re allowed to see His beautiful plan and we glimpse a whole cluster of answered prayers. We then can see that the long and perhaps lonely way God led us was necessary so that He could provide far more blessings than we would have thought to pray for.
I praise You, Father, that all Your purposes toward us end in infinite and eternal love.
“They that know thy name will put their trust in thee” (Psalm 9:10 KJV).
We’ve been talking about divorce and remarriage in the last two posts. But what if we are in a marriage we don’t want to be in? You may be thinking this isn’t freedom. It is bondage. What about the grace of God? What about His promises of deliverance? What about happy is He who trusts the Lord? Proverbs 16:20
There are many women and men who feel they are trapped in a marriage because it is God’s will they don’t divorce. So, they “endure”. Is this what God wants for His children?
We aren’t to divorce (except in certain situations abuse, adultery, etc as led by the Spirit), so we endure. We tolerate. We do the minimum amount. In our heart we long for a way out. We want it to end. We lose ourselves in other things; children, friendships, work, and ministries, and our spouse slips toward the bottom of the list. . . Most of us have felt feelings similar to this at some point. But, this isn’t a marriage, because true marriage is about the heart. This is a heart of divorce and not God’s will. With this mindset and heart, we are cultivating division instead of peace and love. We are our own worst enemy in wrecking havoc in our marriage. This may be a hard truth to face for those of us who have lived in this mindset. But being in this place is bondage. There is a much better way. God wants so much more for us. God wants to heal and renew our marriages. He doesn’t want us to divorce. He doesn’t want us to live in misery either. He wants us to believe and experience His power of His love at work in the marriage we have.
Marriage isn’t about a piece of paper just as divorce isn’t about that. In the eyes of God, it is about the state of our heart, a heart of love. God instituted marriage to illustrate our relationship with Him. With Him, what is most important is our heart, not our outward actions. The same is true with an earthly marriage. Ephesians 5:25. All of God’s commandments are grounded in love including marriage. 1 Timothy 1:5 He doesn’t want us to simply “endure” but abide in satisfaction. Proverbs 19:23
In marriage, like everything else, our thoughts create much of what happens because our emotional output and actions carry the truth of our thoughts. The movie Fireproof is a great example of this concept. The main character, played by Kirk Cameron, did “nice” things for his wife in a last effort to save his marriage, but his wife knew that his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t want to do them and that is what she felt. So his actions meant little to her. But when his heart surrendered to God, then he was filled with God’s love and that love filled his actions. When it did, she noticed a difference – a change that made all the difference and saved their marriage. It isn’t just about our actions and our actions without love flowing into them from our core don’t mean much.
People feel our core, which our thoughts reflect. And ladies, men feel it too. We wonder why he can be so detached and unaware as he sits around on the couch lost in the TV or buries himself in his work or hobbies – but it’s probably to escape our negativity coming from our thoughts. Not that this is always the case, but it is a lot more often than people think. How often we hear people say; I do this and that for him and he still ignores and disrespects me! It is your heart he is responding to. Men, it’s the same with the ladies. If you are being unfaithful, disconnected, and not loving your wife in your heart, she feels is and responds. We can see the vicious cycle it creates as we feed and respond to each other’s true thoughts. We love to blame others because we’re being so “nice”. But are we really? What if our spouse could hear all our thoughts? How nice would we be? Well, that is what they feel. Though they may not know exactly what they are feeling from someone, they feel it good or bad and react. If we are pouring his coffee and cursing him in our heart – it is the cursing he feels and will react to. It all starts with our thoughts. They are often the culprit feeding our problems. 2 Corinthians 10:5
This impact of our thoughts is why counseling can be constructive and helpful to a marriage. Counseling helps us to have more understanding, which leads to compassion and a change in our thoughts. It brings to light the error of our thinking as we talk through issues. We gain new perspectives. Fundamentally, we learn from counseling to think differently and that impacts our marriage. However, what we learn from counseling is at a surface level. And though it can be helpful, there is something else that cuts through everything including our thoughts, the love of God.
When we truly come to know the love of God it changes how we think and feel about others at our core. God’s love is powerful to make a significant change in any relationship.
Unlike the movie Fireproof, for me experiencing the love of God that was beyond myself took a long time. For years, I prayed to know His love. One day God filled me with it and it changed how I felt (not fleeting emotions, but a deep unchanging care) about me, God and others. Since then it has never left but grown. It came from developing a relationship with Him by abiding daily in His Word. As I grew to know God and drew near to Him, He drew near to me and His presence including His love filled my life. It started to change how I deeply felt about others. His love is powerful beyond anything we know. It seems daily I learn more and more about its purity and perfection in our lives. Most don’t understand its power and therefore don’t trust in it, because they haven’t experienced it. It is worth the heart-felt request to ask to deeply know His love. When it takes over, it renews us in so many ways including us, our heart toward our spouse, and our marriage. It isn’t an instant process but it is a process that will blow your mind. Where there once was coldness, hardness, bitterness, resentment, pain, anger, indifference, is now love; a love that is pure and strong because it is of God.
Marriage isn’t about just staying in the same house. It is about the state of our heart. But what if our spouse is unlovable? Look at God. How He loves us. His love is powerful. It isn’t by our own strength that we love but by His. Philippians 4:13 It is His love flowing through us; the love we gain by cultivating a relationship with Him. When His love flows through us it can change everything. 1 Peter 4:8
There have been several times God has called me to love someone that was unlovable at the time. The difference in those people when they felt His love through me was incredible. They may have not realized exactly what it was they felt or what changed but they felt it because their demeanor and actions changed, and the dynamic of our relationship followed. One very important note, the only way I was able to truly love was because of God’s love in me. There are two scenarios in which I didn’t have that love of God for others. One, before I had a close relationship with God, I didn’t have true love that has power. If we aren’t closely connected to Him in truth and spirit we’ll lack the power of His love. Second, my heart got hard out of pride. When I confessed that pride and prayed with a sincere motive to truly love that person then God’s love flow toward them. James 4:3 Pride is a huge enemy of love.
Every commandment of God comes down to love. Marriage is an emotional, physical, and spiritual oneness. Some of us may be far from this now. And for many of us we are a big part of the problem because the thoughts we are holding and feeding about our marriage. We need to get our hearts right about our marriage and we do that by abiding in God’s truth and letting His Words of love wash us, through prayer, and knowing that He desires a marriage of the heart – a marriage of love. And this is very important – we must believe He is powerful enough to renew our marriage and that He wants to. It is easy to doubt God’s power in this area when we are face to face with all the issues. We can easily get too focused on what is and not focused on Him. Is a renewal too hard for God? Is God too weak? Is His love to frail? Is His mercy to small?
God wants our marriages to represent our union with Him. And our union with Him is all about love – true and powerful.
There is an interesting interplay between reaping what you sow and mercy in the life of a follower of Christ that I’ve been thinking about this week . . . here are some of my thoughts.
Reaping what you sow (often called karma in the secular world) is about cause and effect. Mercy counteracts reaping in not getting the negative consequences for what we sow.
In Christ Jesus, our foundation is in mercy, not karma. (One note, mercy is a part of karma, if we give mercy we receive mercy, however God gives us mercy unwarranted by our actions. So for this post I’m integrating the dynamic of mercy into the cause and effect playing field.) When we are in Christ Jesus, we are righteous in the eyes of God as all that Christ is covers us. God’s love toward His children is what it is because of Christ not because of anything we earn. We don’t and can’t earn His love and righteousness. We don’t deserve it but we have it in Christ – it isn’t about karma but mercy. God’s mercy is ours because we are His. His mercy can’t be dependent on us. We have nothing to offer. Our insufficiency is why we need it in the first place. His mercy is His never ending gift to His children that flows into every area of our lives.
Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Deuteronomy 6:10-11 So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–
However on another level as God’s children we live with Him in truth or against Him. We seek His face and draw near or not, and our choice will have a tremendous impact in our lives. It is the difference between thriving in the Kingdom of God and wallowing in a mud hole at the Kingdom’s gate. And it is this area that we play a part in reaping what we sow. If we don’t nurture and take time to foster a relationship with God then our lives will reflect that. We will lack depth in experiencing His mercy, love, provision, protection, comfort, joy, peace, and power because we are trusting someone other than Him – because we are following our will not His. Psalm 40:4 When we walk outside His will, then we will suffer the consequences even though we still experience much of His mercy.
We reap in mercy. The way we reap what is truly good is by cultivating a relationship with God that is covered in mercy and not by trying to simply be good.
Our sowing should be focused on cultivating a relationship with God because that is the source of everything in our lives. Generally when we hear about having good karma in the world’s definition of it, it means actively choosing to act good so that goodness will come back to us. In my opinion, the focus of the idea of karma is off in that it focuses on being good to get goodness. No one is good but God. The only goodness comes from Him. When we focus on cultivating a relationship with God, the result is the fruit of His goodness in our lives. Life and all that is truly good comes from being surrendered to God’s will. And surrendering to His will occurs as we seek His face with all our heart, soul and mind. There are many opinions about what good is and isn’t and only true good comes from God. Therefore only by being deeply connected to God can we experience it in our lives. All other “goodness” is a copycat that leads us down the wrong path.
To try on our own to live a good life outside of God only creates death. Often society labels things good that aren’t, and the lies destroy many people’s lives. Only in God is there life; for He is life. When we sow a relationship with Him and nourish our spirit born of Him, then our lives start to become consumed with His presence – all that is good and of abundant life. In Him, God leads us to live according to His will. If we follow His lead and heed His instruction, then we will reap the fruit of it, but it is Him in us, not us.
Living as a follower of Christ is about cultivating a relationship with God so that we live according to His love moving through us. Every command of God comes down to love – true love. When we are abiding in Him, we want to do His will because we love Him, not because we “should” do this or that. Our part is to trust God’s power working in and through us. And that trust comes from stirring the deep or cultivating a deep and real relationship with God. He doesn’t ask us to be super Christians, but to excel at depending on Him and His mercy. We are nothing apart from Him. We will never obtain His promises of abundant life if we are trying to gain them in our strength by simply being good. That is a lie that has lead many astray. Striving results in a lack of fulfillment of His promises because we are trusting in our strength instead of His loving kindness and work in us. Ephesians 2:10 Our part of sowing well is to take time to develop a relationship with Him and He does the rest through us and what we reap we reap in mercy.
Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness (life in Christ); Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Philippians 1:11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.