Archive for the ‘Seeking God’s Face’ Category

Seeking Gods Face 13

November 26, 2014

1 Chro 16:11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Psalm 105:4 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Psalm 11:7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.

Psalm 13:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

Psalm 27:8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

Seeking the face of the LORD is to seek to be in His presence and to bow before Him in contentment and joy. It is to desire Him more than all other things and it is to want to be in His presence apart from wanting Him for other things. It is not just to seek Him on Sunday mornings or at religious gatherings, but it is to seek His presence at all times. This is the standard and certainly it is part of or an aspect of the Great Commandment. We must not diminish the standard and we must inform our hearts and preach to our own hearts that we must not rest satisfied with anything less than the presence of our God.

Religious rituals and holidays can be kept, and all in the name of orthodoxy, yet the heart can be empty and hungry for something more. People can be satisfied in doing religious things and Christian things in a traditional way, but still there is a huge vacuum in their hearts when God is not there. The presence of God brings awe and reverence as opposed to awe and reverence bringing the presence of God. The human soul cannot work up awe and reverence as true awe and reverence is a spiritual activity of a soul in the presence of God. We are to pray for His name to be hallowed (treated with reverence and awe, glorified) and we should pray for that regarding ourselves as individuals and as churches. The local church should be a place where the people of God gather to seek the presence of God as opposed to fulfill the order of the bulletin and to carry out acceptable rituals.

The writer of the Scriptures (given at the top of the page) was thinking of people seeking the LORD with more than just some average (at best) energy whenever the people felt like it. The presence of God must be sought as a first priority. The name of God will not be glorified as long as people are not seeking His presence. It is a sign that people do not love God when the people of God are not seeking His presence. It seems that if you love someone, you want to be in that person’s presence and to be around them. If people love God and His glory, then, they should seek to be in His presence and to seek Him for His glory in order that His name would be glorified.

The Scriptures teach us that we can only have one first love and one true master. It is hard to imagine a person not seeking to have what s/he loved and it is even harder to imagine a person not longing and craving to be in the presence of one s/he loves. When people have private “worship” or devotions, they are either seeking God as their first love of they are seeking Him for some other reason. If they are seeking God as their first love, surely they are seeking His presence as the One they love.

This is surely true of the gathering of the people of God as well. People come to the gathering and they either seek God for Himself and for His presence or they are doing rituals for other reasons, not the least being an effort to gain His approval. In that case, what people call “worship” is not truly worship but is an act of idolatry. The conclusion is obvious, I would think, that God cannot be worshipped unless we are seeking His presence first and foremost. We are told to seek the LORD with all of our hearts, but I cannot see how we are to seek Him unless we are seeking His presence. Oh, LORD, grant us the grace of your presence that we may be instruments of your glory.

Advertisements

Seeking Gods Face 12

November 25, 2014

1 Chro 16:11  Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Psalm 11:7  For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.

Psalm 13:1  For the choir director. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

Psalm 27:8  When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

In the Old Testament, people were commanded to seek the face of the Lord. In the first text above, we can see that they were told to do that continually. They were told to seek His face continually, but also to seek His strength. In the modern day, however, I am not sure we know what that means. We know something of it intellectually, but we seem to know nothing of it in a practical sense. What does it means to seek the LORD and His strength? What does it mean to seek His face continually? If we ask those questions of the scholars or those who follow them, we will receive a scholarly answer. Now while that may be helpful in one sense, it may not be helpful in actually seeking the Lord. We must learn what it means to seek the LORD and His strength and to seek His face continually.

Another quite related issue, though, is that people may not even want to seek the LORD once they have some slight idea of what it means. This is for those who know their hearts to some degree. Our hearts are not able to seek the LORD apart from grace given to seek Him for Himself. In the modern day we seem to think that seeking the LORD is to get Him to do things for us. We can see that we should seek the LORD, but we may have no real desire to do so. It is also possible to have a little desire to seek Him and yet understand that we need a greater desire to seek Him. In that case, we would need to seek the LORD for Him to give us the strength of desire to seek His face continually. The heart that loves God with all of his or her being will want to seek the face of the LORD continually, though it will see that it lacks the ability to do so and will ask for the strength of His grace in order to seek Him in truth and love.

The heart that truly desires to seek the LORD will find out that this will take humility and self-denial, but of course true humility and the true denial of self must be the work of Christ in the soul as they cannot be works of self. Self cannot work by any other love or strength than that of self, so self cannot deny the true self though self will try to appear to deny things about self. In order to seek the LORD from the heart, which is a true seeking of Him, there must be true love in the heart and love for God is a gift of God to the humble. The heart that wants to truly seek God, therefore, must seek the LORD for humility and for self to be denied. While self may desire humility in order to obtain things from God or for the self-righteous appearance of it to others or even self, true humility has the idea of being emptied of self. This is grating to the self, but if the soul has some love for God given to it by grace it will long to be delivered from the power of self and the love of self that it may seek the face of God in truth and love.

For a person to truly and earnestly seek the face of the LORD tells us that a person must seek the grace of holiness as God will not dwell with those have no desire to be holy. If one desires to be in the presence of the thrice holy God, that person must seek the LORD for holiness. No one can seek another person in truth as long as s/he is doing the things that the other person hates. The LORD loves holiness and is a thrice holy God. He loves to dwell with the humble and the contrite, but He detests the proud and will not dwell with them.

Seeking the face of the LORD continually means reliance upon grace continually, a looking to Christ continually, a seeking of humility and self-denial continually, and a seeking holiness continually. Seeking the LORD is not a passive thing, but instead is a very active thing. It requires the whole soul and it requires things (self-denial, humility, holiness) that are beyond the powers of the soul, so the soul must seek a state of the soul from the LORD in order to seek His face. It is not comfortable or easy, yet there is really nothing else.

Seeking Gods Face 11

November 7, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

Why do people do evil? Why do people do evil at all and why do people do any particular evil? According to II Chronicles 12:14, given just above, people do evil because they do not set their hearts to seek the LORD. It is not because people have not received the best education and it is not because people have not studied different theories of ethics. Instead, it is because they have not set their hearts to seek the LORD. II Chronicles 12:14 is speaking of Rehoboam, the king of Israel, who was the son of Solomon. When he grew strong as King, he did not seek the LORD and the people did not seek the LORD either.

What was the real issue with Rehoboam? While one can point at many things, the reason that the Scriptures give us is that “he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.” When we think on these things, it is clear that people who are doing evil are not seeking the Lord either. When people are seeking the Lord or have set their hearts to seek the Lord, they are focused on Him rather than on sin. People cannot seek sin if their hearts are set on seeking the Lord. This text and the story of Rehoboam does give us intriguing insights into the nature of sin and of how hearts are hardened into selfishness, pride, and the pursuit of sin. It also teaches us of how vital it is to set out hearts on seeking the Lord.

1 Timothy 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

According to Paul, we are to flee sin by pursuing righteousness, love, faith, and gentleness. The idea, then, is that no one is ever static in what s/he is doing, but instead one is either pursuing the Lord or one is not fleeing sin. The heart will always be set on something and it will always desire something, so when it is not set on the Lord and the Lord is not the chief love and desire of that heart, it will naturally gravitate toward sin. We are told that one definition of sin is to fall short of the glory of God, which teaches us that we must be set on seeking the Lord and His glory. If our hearts are not aimed at glorifying God, then they are not seeking Him either.

Each person must set his heart on seeking the Lord as a way of fleeing sin, but it is also true that professing churches must learn to do this corporately. From the five texts at the top of this page, we can see that one cannot live as a Christian or worship or pray unless one is seeking the face/presence of God. It would also be true of professing churches that if they have not set their hearts on seeking the face and presence of the Lord then they are going to commit evil as well. It is an evil thing to seek other things than the Lord if we are doing to have “church services” while using His name. Whether in public or corporate worship or in private worship, it is not an option. We either seek the Lord or we will be doing evil. As the nation of Israel shows us, it is possible to go through the motions of doing the rituals and yet not seek the Lord. As they also show us, the longer they do that the more they were blinded and the deeper they went into sin. It is the same today. We must set our hearts on seeking the Lord.

Seeking Gods Face 10

November 5, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

In II Chronicles 7:14 it gives us some different aspects that are included in seeking the Lord and yet gives insight into what it means to seek the face of Lord. First of all, before a person can even seek the face of the Lord a person must be one of His people and be called by His name. Only true believers will seek the Lord as only true believers (in the NT) are His people. True prayer is only in the name of Christ and on the basis of the merits of Christ, so clearly one must have Christ in order to pray and seek His face. It is also true that it is in the face of Christ that the glory of God shines.

In order to seek the face of God a person must humble himself. Now this sounds so easy to people, while in one sense there is an external humbling, but in the real and deepest sense there must be an inner humbling. The proud person is full of self, so to be humbled is to be emptied of pride and self. Yet self cannot cast out self, so the work of true humility must be the work of another who has more power. If the working of humility in the soul is really the work of Christ by His Spirit, and the life of humility in the soul is the life of Christ in the soul, then to humble self is to give up seeking humility by the efforts of self and to seek it from Christ. Again, the humbling of self by self is for self to give up all hope of trying to attain humility by the efforts of self.

True humility is absolutely necessary because God opposes the proud, but also because pride and faith cannot live in the same place and at the same time. How can a proud person pray when God opposes the proud? A proud person will never seek God because when God is sought a person must come in submission to Him, and that is precisely what a proud person will never do in reality and from the heart though that proud person may indeed try to feign submission to Him. True prayer is not limited (if even at all) asking things and/or material blessings from God, but instead it must a seeking of God and His will and glory. This is what a proud person cannot and will not do. While people may do many things with their mouths and actions while they think they are praying, they are not truly praying if they are not seeking the presence of God.

True prayer, as II Chronicles 7:14 sets it out, is a seeking of the face of God. Prayer is not just kneeling or taking a posture and asking God for things, but instead it is a seeking of the face of God. It does not matter how earnest a person is or how long a person utters words or how religious a person is in his or her words if that person is not seeking the presence/face of God. There is no seeking of the face of God without prayer and yet there is no prayer without seeking the face/presence of God. This cannot be stressed too much. There is no prayer apart from seeking the presence of God from the heart and from the desires. But if that is true, then how much true prayer do I do? How much true prayer occurs in the professing church I attend? How much true prayer happens at all? It is vital to seek the presence of God in prayer. If not, we are not truly praying.

Seeking Gods Face 9

November 4, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

While it may appear that what a person needs to do is to seek the Lord with all of his or her heart and soul, there are other things going on here. In one sense the statement, factually stated, is true. In another sense, however, the law was never meant to tell us that we have the ability to do something to find God by our own efforts. The law was given so that we could see our inability to do what God commands. This command to seek the Lord with all of our hearts and souls is meant for us to see our utter inability to do this and to seek the grace of God for forgiveness for our wicked idolatry and also for grace to keep the commands. While we will never keep them perfectly or even close to imperfectly, a slight bit of love for God that is given us by grace is far better than no love in the soul as we perform out external duties thinking that we can please God in our own strength.

God lives in perfect love within the Trinity. He alone loves Himself perfectly at all moments and in all ways. In one sense this great teaching points us to how God is within Himself, but also the fact that we must have Him if we are going to even begin to keep this standard in the slightest degree. This text does not mention the word “grace” even once, but it is saturated with grace when one looks at it in the broader biblical context. What grace God gives in saving sinners who sinned in all they did with no righteousness at all and no true love for God. What grace God gives believers who are enabled to share in His love for Himself and to behold His glory.

The Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of our being, so the passage in Deuteronomy 4:29 (above) is setting out that a person must keep the Greatest Commandment in order to find God. But no one was able to do that in the Old Testament and no one is able to do this but Christ in the New Testament and no one has done this in all of history since Christ. How badly we need Christ, then, if we are to seek the face of God and find Him. We can understand to some degree the perfect love within the Trinity and we can understand to some degree the perfect love that the incarnate Son of God had for His Father. It is the incarnate Son of God who has come to us and has given us a perfect example of how to love God, but the incarnate Son has also suffered and died to take away our sin so that He may dwell in us and work out the life of His love of and for God within us that we may share in that love and so love God.

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has purchased a people and in doing that He gives us a sight of the face of God. It is the life of Christ in the soul that works in us and is manifested through us so that it is Christ in us that desires and seeks the face of God and yet it is only in Christ that we behold and taste of the presence of God. There is no discovery of the presence of God apart from being drawn by the Father and brought to the Father through Christ. It is only when a soul is united to Christ can a soul truly long to know God and by that life have a heart that will seek God. We will only find God when we seek Him with a whole heart, but we can only do that when we have Christ as our life and as our righteousness.

Seeking Gods Face 8

November 3, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

The longing of the heart that loves God is a longing to see and taste of His glory. The problem, however, is that fallen man wants to be able to see and use the glory of God for Himself and to see it when he desires and as he pleases. It is so hard for fallen man to come to the understanding that God shows His glory and enables human beings to taste of His glory by grace alone. Oh how the fallen heart battles with grace at seemingly each point. But even after the mind is enabled to understand to some degree that this comes by grace, it is even harder for the mind to reach the point of understanding that these things come by grace alone. But the next step is even harder, and that is for the soul to realize that understanding that these things come by grace alone is not enough. The soul must bow in utter emptiness of self and poverty of spirit to know that this is the way that is right and good. But even that is still not the last point; the soul must learn to wait on God to receive this as grace.

It must not be just words that cry out to God for Him to show His glory, but this cry must be from the heart. It must not be just the cry of any heart, but it must be a cry from a heart that truly longs to see His glory and it is willing to see His glory on His terms. The terms of God are that sinners are to seek Him and His glory as if it came by grace alone because in fact it only comes on the basis of grace alone. While so many think that they are seeking God and perhaps they are given to the study of the Bible and certain forms of prayer, those things cannot give a person the right to see the glory of God. No one has the right to see His glory and yet it seems so common for people to think that they can do things that will give them the right or title to see His glory. While it is one thing for people to think that they believe in justification by grace alone, it is quite another to really have that as the state of the heart. So in seeing the glory of God it is far easier to give lip service to saying we walk by grace than it is to realize and seek the Lord for all things as if they really come by grace alone.

It is easy enough to have a longing after what we think is God or what we think is a true longing, but a true longing after God and the desire to see His glory can only be worked in us by grace. We cannot work up a true desire or a true love for God out of the strength of self and the flesh, but instead we must seek God for a true desire to seek Him. In order to seek Him with a true desire to see His glory means that the heart must have been humbled and broken from seeking self and the things of self that one might think s/he can have in seeking His glory. A desire to see the glory of God for the sake of obtaining other things, perhaps even the honor of men or larger churches, is despicable and horribly wicked. Yet those wicked reasons are the only ways a human heart can desire God unless God works those things out of it and by grace alone works a true desire for Himself in the soul.

Oh how our hearts must be broken from self, pride, and the world in order to be able to seek the glory of God in truth. How our hearts must be emptied of all those false reasons in order to pray for His glory in truth. Even our prayers are wicked beyond belief if we don’t truly desire His glory and desire His glory for holy reasons. This is why we must be prepared for trials and hard things if we are going to seek His glory in truth because we cannot just get rid of the selfish and proud heart at our mere pleasure and seek Him at the turn of a switch. The heart must be trained by grace in order that it may seek His glory by grace. The heart must learn what it means to seek His glory and His presence and how it must do so, but we must know that this will never be learned apart from a battle to the death with self. Self must be put to death by grace in order that we may seek Him with desires that are given to us by grace. Until we learn what grace really is we will not seek Him truly, but instead for self.

Seeking Gods Face 7

November 1, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

The seeking of God’s face means a seeking of His presence. This is rather stunning when one thinks about it, but the Scriptures treats this very seriously. When the Scripture speaks of God turning His face from a person or a nation, those people are under a great judgment. But when God turns His fact to a person or a nation or is said to smile upon a person, there are great blessings. But this points to a great sin of the heart and how it is always wants to seek God for things rather than for the presence of God and to enjoy God. We can see our hearts and how they desire and long for things or even to be righteous by our own works rather than to seek His presence.

We can examine out hearts by the desire of David (from Psalm 27:4). Is our greatest desire (one thing I have asked from the LORD) to dwell in the house of the LORD (be in His holy presence) and to behold His beauty? We can look at our hearts in terms of private worship, being at church, or perhaps Bible studies. The point, as is most likely clear, has to do with what we really desire in the depths of our souls as we do our Bible studies and prayer in private? Why do we attend a local church? Why do we want to be with others in Bible studies? If we don’t desire to be in His presence and to behold His beauty, then what is the desire(s) of our hearts?

It may be the case that we will try to work up these things in the soul in our own strength and power, but when we do we may work up some excitement in the flesh. However, true desires and the true presence of God cannot come to us other than by grace and grace alone. The Lord will not come and dwell in us except by grace and the Lord will not manifest Himself and His beauty other than by grace. We must examine our hearts to see if we really desire His presence and if we really desire to see the beauty of His holiness, but we must also examine ourselves to be sure those desires come from grace and in fact that we seek those things by grace alone. God will not give Himself to those who seek Him for self-centered purposes and to those who seek Him by works, even if those ways are the external things that should be done. We cannot seek Him by the means of grace (as they are called) if we are using them as works to get something from God.

The heart is so deceptive in this manner and way. It will take anything that the Lord gives as a way or means of grace and turn them to be works for grace. The difference is in how broken the heart is from self, pride, and works as a way to seek God. Part of that difference is the chief desire of the heart. The unbroken heart that is lifted up and blinded by pride may deceive itself into thinking that it is using the means of grace and looking to God for grace. But the broken heart will see that while it longs and desires for grace, it will see the unsanctified part of it looking and longing for other things and that it has desires to get grace by its works. The broken heart sees its own sin and longs to be cleansed from this sin and cries out to God against itself that it may have purified desires and purified was of seeking. The broken heart knows that God is glorified by His grace and not by the works of the flesh which include the best of works that man can do. The broken heart sees the grace of God as more beautiful than self-sufficiency and works and so longs to do all it does by the grace of God so that all the glory will be His. We must seek the Lord for one thing and in one way for Himself.

Seeking Gods Face 6

October 30, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

We go on living basic lives seeking comfort and pleasure and thinking that “church” should help us in that. We go on studying our Bibles and having time of prayer, yet we don’t really seek God in our studies or our prayers. Our efforts, in appears to me, is to get God to do things for us. Our focus is on ourselves and our lives rather than on God and His glory. Rather than our lives being a seeking after what Moses prayed for, “show me Your glory,” our lives are a constant prayer of show me what stuff I can obtain and what creature comforts I may have.

This may sound like a cold and calloused judgment upon the modern “Church” and the things that have to do with that, and indeed it may be, but where is God in the modern “Church”? Is God being sought for who He is and out of love for Him and His glory or do we want Him in order to obtain things or perhaps comfort? Where are the panting hearts crying out for God to show His glory? Where are the panting hearts who come to a meeting of a local church that they may find God? Where are the panting hearts who long for His presence just because they long to behold Him in His glory beauty?

It seems to be the case that despite a renewal in interest in orthodox creeds, there has not been a renewal in the seeking of the presence of God in the churches. The interest in having orthodox creeds seems to go alone with various views of Sacramentalism, iron-fisted eldership, and too much of a focus on liturgy. It seems as if people believe that as long as a church has an orthodox creed, the sacraments, and a basic morality that is all that is needed. But one can have all of those things and not have the living God. Jonathan Edwards said that there is nothing that the believer can do that the unbeliever cannot do except have true love. Whether or not that is absolutely true, it does have a powerful point. An unbeliever can be a faithful member of a “church” and not be converted. An unbeliever can be a relatively faithful minister (in a sense) and still be unconverted. An unbeliever can come to “church”, sing the orthodox songs, pray orthodox prayers, listen to orthodox sermons, give orthodox tithes and still march to hell past an orthodox pulpit. Where is the living God in our “churches” today?

We are told in the Scriptures (one of them being above) that we can only seek and find God if we search for Him with all of our hearts and souls. Is this really being done today? It seems that we are so satisfied with our busy and comfortable lives that we don’t need God (we think) and so settle for an orthodox and comfortable church. As has been noted before in other contexts, we cannot read the Bible in truth without it insulting us. True preaching will poke and prod until we see what vile miscreants we are and how badly we must have grace to save our wicked souls. We cannot truly seek God and find God when we are casual about what we do at “church” or anywhere else. If we are not truly seeking God with our whole hearts and souls (not perfectly), we are seeking something else as our chief love and end. If we are “doing church” (so to speak) in a casual manner and going through the rituals (even if orthodox) yet our desire is not for God, then our worship is as hateful to God as the rituals of the Old Testament Israelites were to Him when their hearts were not involved in their external rituals. Do we really want to see the glory of God or will we be satisfied with a moral and economic reformation of sorts without Him in reality?

Seeking Gods Face 5

October 30, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

One of the great dangers in seeking the face of God is that if God does come to a church, things may not be so orderly and controlled. Even more dangerous, in the thinking of certain leaders, is that God will take over. When God takes over a church, people may want to really pray rather than pray according to what is acceptable and a certain timetable. When God comes people may groan in agony when they pray and they may actually raise their voice. When God comes people may seek Him with intensity rather than with an orderly monotone of voice.

The problem with modern church of way of “doing church” is that we want people to be comfortable and for God to be in our control, follow our prescribed plans, and do what we think He should do. But this is not what happened in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and in the history of God’s working in history. When God comes down and visits His people, things change. People are no longer comfortable but instead they are in awe and perhaps sheer terror. In the modern Church everything is orderly (including God), which is not the same thing as disorderly. But it appears that with the use of the bulletin and the sacraments God is under our control and does what we want and when we want it. Does God really have room to come in and order things as He pleases? Of course God can make room as He pleases, but the point is that we don’t plan for anything to happen but what we want to happen. We don’t expect God to come to our churches because we don’t really want Him to come. We are fine with how things are and can go on with our busy lives as we please thinking we are in His service.

Our bulletins tell us what to do and when to do it. We have a prescribed limit of time to get things done and so we set out to fulfill the dictates of the bulletin rather than seek God, though of course there are many excuses for that type of thing. Do we at least set apart some time in order to seek the face/presence of the living God? We can say that we are seeking God in all we do, but is that the truth of the matter? Do we really want God to come to our “services” and to change our hearts to do His will and to love what He loves rather than for us to go on doing what we think He should want? What if God changed our beloved traditions? What if the presence of God brought real life to our meetings and our hunger and thirst for Him spilled out into all of life and we could not longer find time to do all the things our busy and very important social schedules dictate to us? What if our hunger for God became so great and we desired His holy presence so much that television and sports began to look silly to us and a (gasp) waste of time? What if our so-called heroes became godly men in history rather than athletes and actors?

When seeking the face of God all of our external niceness (or most) may fade away and will be seen as utter silliness in the light of true love and holiness. When seeking the face of God our stringent timetables of wanting to limit the time at church so we can get to things we like more will be seen as idolatry. When seeking the face of God the things of the world that we so value and say we do them in order to have a bridge to the world will be seen as becoming like the world. When seeking the face of God our traditions may seem to be less valuable than little trinkets for children. When seeking the face of God we may discover how silly it is to sing songs we like and our affections to be moved by the songs rather than by God Himself. When seeking the face of God our present activities at “church” may be seen as so trivial as to be mockery toward God. Why is it that we will not seek God? It is because we don’t really want the real God. We want to retain control and “worship” a nice, comfortable god. The real problem with that is that the real God does not fit that description. So we want something other than God.

Seeking God’s Face 4

October 25, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

2 Chr 7:14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 12:14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

One of the things that is so remarkable about the “worship” or church “services” of the modern day is just how focused on human beings the people are and how God is said to be focused on human beings as well. The Church (and so churches) is to be focused on what God is focused on rather than thinking that God should be focused on what fallen men are in fact focused on. It is quite true that fallen man wants to be comfortable in his fallen nature and wants to think that God feels sorry for him and longs for man to change his mind and commune with Him and do things for God. But instead of that, God is perfectly holy and as such must always have love for Himself and His own glory as His own priority in all things. While some form of justification by grace alone may be taught, that does not mean it is a biblical grace that is taught. The truth that God’s great love is Himself in His triune nature, teaches us about the nature of grace. God’s being set apart from all other things to do all that He does for His own glory also teaches and instructs us about the nature of grace.

When a local church becomes focused and centered upon a God who is focused and centered upon Himself, it is only then that the church will begin to understand something of reverence that is needed for true worship. It seems that many react to the lack of reverence and the presence of profane things in worship by retreating to ritual and/or liturgy. But the Scriptures do not teach that either, but instead the Scriptures teach us to seek God in reverence knowing that all spiritual things come to us by grace. God has not obligated Himself to grant worship to people who use liturgy and say that they are using the means of grace any more than He is obligated to listen to the modern nonsense and childishness (worldliness) in what goes under the name “worship” so often.

David understood something of this when he knew that he must seek these things, but it does not say that he thought he could just waltz into the house of the Lord and behold His beauty. The seeing the beauty of the Lord is a spiritual blessing and comes to the people of God by grace alone. The opening of the eyes to see the beauty of the Lord is a spiritual blessing and can only come to the children of God by grace alone. The believer is to seek the Lord for a sight and a taste of the beauty of God that the believer may be in His holy presence and know that God is God. It is only the humble that receive grace from God and so it is only the humble who will truly seek God for grace in order to behold His beauty.

Humility is necessary for prayer and humility is necessary for study of the Bible (in truth). Humility is necessary for worship and humility is necessary for all spiritual acts and deeds. This idea seems to be missing, but surely it can be seen that a so-called reverence that comes from the flesh and forms of music are contrived. There is no worship apart from reverence and awe and there is no worship that is apart from spirit and truth. This is in line with the basic thought that God and God alone can give us hearts to seek Him and to worship Him and so all that we need to please God must come from God. We can only truly seek the face of God if we love God and want to behold Him in His beauty just because of who He is. We can only seek the face of God if God has worked humility in our hearts. We can only seek the face of God if He gives us grace to do so. We can only seek the face of God if He draws us to Himself. The very act of coming into the presence of God is far beyond the power and ability of a human being. We must seek this by grace or we will not seek it in truth at all.