Seek

This morning, we’re beginning a new message series entitled, “Seek.”  Over and over and over and over again, we’re called in God’s word to seek Him.  We know that if God calls us to do something, it’s not something that we’re going to do naturally on our own.

What does it look like to seek after God, though?  Is it to read a devotional, pray before meals, listen to Christian music most of the time, go to church Sundays?  Is seeking after God a casual thing that we do in our spare time if nothing more important comes up?

Or is seeking after God supposed to look more like seeking our keys when we’re already running late?  A fervent, passionate, focused pursuit that stirs up the same concern and desire within all of those around us to join in that search.  Together, we seek until we find and nothing distracts us from that pursuit of finding those keys.

There’s nothing wrong with spiritual disciplines.  They are critically necessary to our faith.  However, if they just become tasks to check off of our list that we do religiously, then we’re missing it entirely!

Jesus said:

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Do we seek after God in this way?  Do we see this level of value in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Are we willing to leave behind everything else in passionate and joyous pursuit of it?  Do we find excitement in seeking after God?  If not, then we’re doing it wrong!

The footnote in The Passion Translation of the Bible provides this commentary:

“The most accepted interpretation of this parable is that Jesus is the treasure, but Jesus taught that the field is the world (v. 38). The allegory breaks down, for a believer doesn’t sell all he has (works) and then buy the world to find Jesus (the treasure). It is more plausible to view the hidden treasure as a symbol of you and me. Jesus is the man who sold all that he owned, leaving his exalted place of glory to come and pay for the sin of the whole world with his own blood just so he could have you, his treasure. Heaven’s kingdom realm is experienced when we realize what a great price Jesus places on our souls, for he gave his sacred blood for us. The re-hiding of the treasure is a hint of our new life, hidden in God.”

For me, this is a whole new perspective on the two parables found in these two verses.  Whichever way we consider this parable of Jesus and the analogy found within it; I think it’s right.

Consider the value that Jesus placed on redeeming you and I.  He was willing to give up absolutely everything for us.  He stepped off the throne surrounded by glory and praise and worship to Himself and chose to humble Himself to become wrapped in flesh just like you and I, but without sin.  Then, He chose to give up even His humbled humanity in a horrific death as His blood poured out for us.

He did it all to take on the wrath that we deserve, the wrath that only He alone, not even the Father or Spirit, is worthy to unleash on His creation.

Consider the mission statement that Jesus adhered to throughout His earthy ministry and how He lived it out:

Luke 19:10 (NLT)

the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.  We see how He responded to those “sinners” who the religious leaders wouldn’t even speak to.  We see how He responds to us in our sinful condition.  He didn’t just lay down His life for us, He seeks after us.  He pursues us in the same way that He sought after Adam and Eve in the garden right after the original sin was committed. 

Jesus is passionate about seeking and saving lost sinners like you and I.  Jesus went out and met those sinners right where they were at.  He ate with them, drank with them, laughed with them, lived with them.  He sought and saved the lost.  This passionate pursuit of Jesus to seek and to save the lost is revealed through His patience; a true paradox!

2 Peter 3:8-13

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Since Jesus is passionate about everyone having every chance to come to repentance, He patiently seeks after us.  Hence, the paradox.  Fervently, but patiently.  Urgently, but patiently.  Passionately, but patiently. 

After all, He has a plan and a purpose for our lives and it is not for our destruction, but for us to prosper in every way.  We often hear this verse, but wonder why it doesn’t seem to come to pass in our lives.  We must keep this verse in its actual context.  The key to receiving verse 11, which we’re about to read, is found in verses 12-14!  Without them, we will never fully realize or receive verse 11!

In context, Israel has been taken captive and exiled into Babylon.  They are forced to dwell among their enemy as their home is stripped away from them.  God responds by telling them to settle in, to build houses, to get married, to have children, and to pray for peace and prosperity for their enemy.  For as their enemy is blessed by God, they will also be blessed by God. 

Another Old Testament quote repeated in the New Testament, you know, pray for those who persecute you and bless those who curse you?  He reminded His people that this was a season and that He had an appointed time (70 years) for their return home.

Then, He promised:

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (too often, we stop here and miss the key to receiving this promise!) 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

We receive a hope and a future when we seek God and when we seek Him with all our heart.  When we do this, we will find God and He will deliver us, no matter how far from Him we may be.  Seeking God in the same way that we seek after our lost keys; with all our heart!

What stops us from seeking God this way?  Yet another paradox; our free will.

We were created with a free will.  We are free to do whatever we choose.  A loving, just, holy God simply had to create us with free will.  Without it, we would not be capable of love, justice, or holiness and wouldn’t be made in God’s image as a result. 

Love requires a choice.  Justice requires a choice.  Holiness requires a choice.  A choice requires free will.

Here, we find a clear picture of will in action.  Even Jesus, Himself; perfect and sinless struggled with this double-edged sword of free will when it came time to give His life.

Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

“Not as I will, but as you will.”  The number one thing that stands between God’s plans and purposes and will to prosper us and not to harm us is our own will.  The number one thing that stops us from seeking after God as we should is our own will. 

Even Jesus had to surrender and submit His will to the Heavenly Father’s will in order to accomplish His purpose in life.  In His flesh, He didn’t want to take on the punishment for our sin, but He lay down His will. 

Now did harm come His way as a result of surrendering His will?  Absolutely! 

However, that was not the end result!  In just three days, that harm and loss was transformed into the greatest expression of prosperity and gain ever experienced!  Jesus was exalted and given the name above every name and all power and all glory and all authority over all things!

If Jesus had to lay down His will in order to seek His Heavenly Father’s will, how much more do we need to?  We’re not going to naturally want to seek after God.  We’re going to be able to find every reason and excuse in the book not to do it.  However, if we really value God’s plans and purposes for our lives, then our will needs to yield itself to His.  It’s the only way!  He’s watching and waiting on us to do it, too!

Psalm 14:2

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Which one are you serving?  Which one are you seeking?  You simply can’t serve both!

Matthew 6:24-34

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  It’s not wrong to seek after the things of this world and all of the things that we need to do in it.  However, they should all be secondary AND all of these things that we worry about will only fall into place and be taken care of IF we FIRST seek after God.

Seeking after God isn’t a burden.

Seeking after God isn’t boring.

Seeking after God isn’t a chore.

Seeking after God isn’t a series of religious disciplines.

Seeking after God is talking to our best friend who cares deeply about us and has only our best interests in mind.  Seeking after God is exciting.  Seeking after God is an integral part of our daily lives.  We pray continually as we enjoy communion with Jesus at all times through the Holy Spirit.  We live life together!

Sure, we will have good times and bad.  Sure, we will have seasons of abundance and lack.  We surrender our will to His and trust that in the end, all things will be set right.  In the end, we will prosper.  In the end, all things will work together for good.  At just the right time, God will honor us as we seek to honor Him.

Living life as a Spirit-Filled follower of Christ is a daily adventure.  Daily following His lead will transform our ordinary into the extraordinary.  Seeking after Him will reveal to us opportunities for Him to move through our lives to perform signs, wonders, and miracles!  Seeking after Him will lead us to join His mission to seek and save the lost.

Seeking after Him will lead us into a life that lives out that example prayer that Jesus gave us:

Matthew 6:10

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Your will be done.  Not my will, not their will; Your will alone be done.

How did John the Baptist say it?

John 3:30 (NKJV)

He must increase, but I must decrease.

More of Him, less of me.

Exalting Him, humbling me.

He becomes more important, I become less important.

John 3:30 (MSG)

This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.

This simple statement is the profound reality behind what it truly looks like to seek after God.

Today, what is your lost set of keys?

What is it that you need to being to seek after God for?

What is that treasure, that pearl of great price?

It’s time to rejoin the adventure and to begin seeking after Him like we’ve never done before!

Together, we will learn what it looks like to seek after God and realize the exciting adventure that it should really be.  We’ll realize the peace, the joy, and the courage that we can find as together, we seek.