Sunday Sermon @ 9.00am 15 July 2012 – Seek the Lord
Readings: Psalm 19:7-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5; John 5:35-47
Seek the Lord
We had our last Alpha evening this week. It’s been a great time and I am going to miss the group on Wednesdays. Of course there is still the option of joining our Wednesday night home group! 🙂
At the last evening Mike shared some very interesting bloopers from church bulletins. Thankfully none of them are from our Sunday notices.
The one that got my attention is this one which appeared in a Baptist church newsletter: The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’
So here’s the question today. Don’t answer it. Just think about it.
How much time do we spend searching for Jesus? (Or seeking Jesus)
In that beautiful passage from Isaiah 55 we heard today we find these words:
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
In Bible times things were very different. Jesus (in John 5 which we also heard today) had this to say to the religious (Jewish) people (leaders probably) of his day:
39 You diligently studythe Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
This quest for Jesus cannot happen unless people are TOLD that He’s the one! The Jewish people of the time had the expectation of a Messiah – but as John tells us in John 1, “his own received him not”.
Those who did had a story to tell. They proclaimed the good news about Jesus. He touched their lives and they were committed and excited about the story of what He had done for them.
And we have the same story to tell. But we can’t really tell people with integrity unless God is real to us! Our story (or testimony if you like) must add up.
We need to know the reality of our faith. And that requires effort.
So during these 20 weeks – as you read the Bible more and reflect on the truths – the essential truths about Jesus that you discover – the key thing is seeking God.
We need to know him more – as Paul puts it writing to the Ephesians:
Eph 1:16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Eph 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
So will you seek him?
Listen to this Psalm from 1st Chronicles:
1Ch 16:8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
1Ch 16:9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
1Ch 16:10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
1Ch 16:11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
And of course there is God’s word to the exiles – those taken captive into Babylon who longed for the presence of God in his temple again.
Jer 29:11 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.
Jer 29:12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Jer 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
It’s about seeking the presence of God – an intimate relationship – prayer time in which you can
- Hold up to Him what you read in Scripture, and ask him to help you understand it.
- Hold up your life to him – your greatest challenges and fears, hopes and joys
- Hold up your family and friends to him – not just praying for their safety and prosperity, but also that they may seek the Lord while he may be found!
- Hold up the world to him – standing in the gap in intercession for the nation and the nations.
- Hold up the Bible to Him more –and ask Him to speak to you through it!
ON THIS BIBLE SUNDAY – the question must be asked.
Do we have this passion? Just looking at the excitement of the Kiriwina people and their children – the joy of receiving the bible in their own language – it begs the question:
Are we excited about our faith?
Do we open our bibles with the same joy and anticipation?
Someone said this of the Bible: “The Bible – like a bank – is more helpful when it is open.”
And will our hearts be open when we read it?
It’s all about Jesus – and having our hearts open to Him.
Listen again to John 5, verse 37:
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
The truth is, when we believe in the one God sent (Jesus) His word does well in us!
Paul puts it like this in Colossians:
Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Col 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Col 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Is the word of Christ dwelling in you richly?
This is more than just the bible – because it is the Holy Spirit who takes the word of Christ and makes it a living word.
This seeking the Lord – an intimate relationship with him – through reading his word and prayer, and allowing his word to saturate our hearts and minds, leads not only to our personal transformation, but the shared life of worship, gratitude and thanksgiving in the family of God – the church.
Listen to the reading from Isaiah again. There is a life-generating picture here:
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God’s word brings this life!
It’s up to us if we are to give it the time of day.
Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.