So much of life can be consumed by seeking or pursuing many different things. Yet when we finally achieve that which we have been seeking, we must ask ourselves, what have we really gained?
The Scriptures clearly point out that real meaning in life results from seeking the Lord. The writer of Chronicles uses the verb “to seek” (the Lord) eight times in 2 Chronicles 14-16. To seek the Lord means to desire and earnestly pursue His presence, fellowship and holiness. Only then can we find the meaning and fulfillment that the essence of our being cries out for.
I consider one of the real tragedies in Scripture to be the life of a man by the name of Asa. He was a King of Judah who started out right. “He commanded Judah to seek the Lord.” (2 Chron.14:4) When Zerah the Cushite marched out against him in battle he “called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the almighty. Help us, O Lord our God for we rely on You, and in Your name we come against this vast army, O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against You.”(2 Chron.14:11) As a result, “the Lord struck down the Cushities.”(2 Chron.14:12) In 2 Chron.15:12) we read, “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers with all their heart and soul.” Then in verse 15 of 2 Chronicles 15 it says, “They sought God eagerly and He was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.”
I referred earlier to the life of Asa as a tragedy because later in life he stopped relying on the Lord and trusted instead in human resources (see 2 Chron.16:7-9). The prophet Hanani tells Asa, “When you relied on the Lord, He delivered them (your enemies) into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
At that point Asa could have repented and humbled himself before God, seeking His forgiveness. Instead, like so many when confronted by their sin, Asa chose to be, “angry with the seer (prophet) because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.”(2 Chron.16:10) From that point it was all downhill for Asa. “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died.”(2 Chron.16:12, 13) What a tragic end of a man who earlier in life sought the presence and the will of God.
To seek the Lord means to turn to God completely in fervent prayer. In Isaiah 55:6 we are told, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. 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.” Seeking the Lord also involves hungering and thirsting for His presence and a deeper relationship with Him. In John 4:14 Jesus says,” whosoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Seeking the Lord includes beholding the wonders of His creation. In Genesis 1 we see God speaks the Word and creation takes place. In John 1 we see the Word coming forth and dwelling with us. As the Message Bible in John 1:14 declares, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John is saying, “This isn’t just a bunch of spiritual mumble jumbo. “I’m telling you what we have seen with our own eyes, Jesus is the real thing.” Because of Jesus we can be connected with God and the rest of creation.
Job declares in Job 12:7, “…but ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” This verse reminds me of a prayer walk I took at 5:45 one morning. While I was earnestly praying, God spoke to my heart to be quiet and listen and learn from the birds. As I did, I heard the cry of a Bob White Quail, and the Lord reminded me how He fed the children of Israel and how he would continue to provide for New Life Evangelistic Center. Then he had me hear over and over the call of a dove. As I listened to this dove the Lord reminded me how I needed to let His peace sweep over me in every area of my life and to earnestly seek Him.
Anxiety had gripped me by the throat and God was telling me I needed to surrender everything to Him and experience His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 came to mind, where we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” As I did this I started to become aware of a chorus of many different species of birds singing and praising God in their many different bird languages. As I joined my fellow birds in praise, it wasn’t very long until I found that the burdens began to lift and I began to be free again.
But that wasn’t all that I was to learn that morning from the birds about seeking the Lord. After all, we shouldn’t be surprised by the lessons the birds can teach us, for Jesus Himself declared, “Look at the birds of the air” (Matt. 6:26). As I continued to look and listen I saw and heard a large black bird which brought to my attention how the ravens fed Elijah at the brook in the Kerith Ravine (I Kings 17:1-6). Our Lord wanted me to seek Him in every way and to rest in the fact that He is in control and will take care of my every need.
Each time I see a bird float so effortlessly in the air, the Holy Spirit impresses upon me the hope I have in Christ. As I seek the Lord and experience the strength and freedom He provides, I am in turn given the ability to soar over every difficulty. Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. Such people are the ones who have discovered the joys of reconnection to God and His creation which is a result of seeking the Lord.
Martin Luther, in his exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, states, “You see, He is making the birds our schoolmasters and teachers. It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow should become a theologian and a preacher to the wisest of men. We have as many teachers and preachers as there are little birds in the air. Their example is an embarrassment to us… Whenever you listen to a nightingale, therefore, you are listening to an excellent preacher… It is as if he were saying, ‘I prefer to be in the Lord’s kitchen. He has made heaven and earth, and He Himself is the cook and the host.’ Every day He feeds and nourishes innumerable little birds out of His hand.” John Stott, in his book, The Birds Our Teachers, points out that Jesus not only knows every species of bird, but every individual bird when he says not a single sparrow falls without God’s knowledge (Matt. 10:29, Luke 12:6-7). Jesus told us to be bird watchers as we seek Him when he said, “Behold the fowls of the air…” (Matt 6:26).
The early church fathers would point out that God reveals Himself in two books. These include the book of creation and the Bible. The second verse of Psalm 111 declares, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.”
George Washington Carver, in his essay entitled “How to Search for Truth,” gives us insight into what it means to study the works of the Lord and delight in them. “More and more, as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teachings are we able to see the Divine and are therefore fitted to interpret correctly the various languages spoken by all forms of nature about us. From the frail little mushroom, which seems to spring up in a night and perish ‘ere the morning sun sinks to rest in the western horizon, to the giant redwoods of the Pacific slope that have stood the storms for centuries and vie with the snow-capped peaks of the loftiest mountains, in their magnificence and grandeur. First, to me, the varied forms of nature are little windows through which God permits me to commune with Him, and to see much of His glory, majesty, and power by simply lifting the curtain and looking in. Second, I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour and every moment of our lives if we will only tune in and remain so.
We can also seek the Lord by committing ourselves firmly to doing His will and relying upon Him as our ultimate helper. He has promised us in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” As verse 6 declares, “So we can say with confidence, ‘the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Yes we can be confident that God “rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”(Heb.11:6)
The rewards for seeking the Lord include the peace of God in the most adverse situations. We are promised in Is.26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You.” This also involves the peace provided through the forgiveness of sins that Jesus Christ has given through His death and resurrection.
How we need to earnestly seek the Lord with the assurance that we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Heb.4:16) When facing overwhelming odds, Jehoshaphat boldly approached this throne of grace and seeking the Lord declared, “we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12).
God delivered Jehoshaphat because he recognized and admitted his helplessness and called upon God for deliverance. To truly seek the Lord we must first admit our need for Him. In all honesty we must declare, “Dear Lord Jesus, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” This cry of helplessness opens the door for God’s divine intervention.
How critical it is that each day, above all, we seek the Lord and remain in Him. Remember that as we seek God, Jesus has shown us the way for He has declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)
As we seek the Lord remember the illustration that He gives us in John 15:4, 5. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing.” How critical it is that we remain in Jesus.
When Hezekiah received a letter from his enemies saying they were coming to destroy him and his Nation, he knew he was helpless. Hezekiah “went up to the temple of the Lord and spread the letter out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: ‘O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord and hear; open your eyes, O Lord and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the Living God’” (2 Kings 19:14-16). As a result of Hezekiah’s efforts to seek the Lord God and call upon Him, God miraculously intervened and saved the nation of Judah.
Seeking the Lord involves not only praying and observing creation but also reading and applying the Scriptures daily. There we read, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son (Jesus Christ) into the world that we might live through Him” (I John 4:7-9).
Those who would claim they are seeking the Lord and yet are indifferent to the hurts of the poor, fatherless, hurting and homeless, the Scriptures declare, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother (and sister), he is a liar. For everyone who does not love his brother (and sister), whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother (and sister)” (I John 4:20, 21).
It is by faith that we seek the Lord. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”(Heb.11:6)
James 2:14-19 tells us that it is impossible to truly seek the Lord while we remain indifferent to the hungry, hurting and homeless. “What good is it, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”
In 2 Chron. 7:14, we find the answer to the sin of not seeking the Lord, as pleasures and gods of this world are pursued. There He declares, “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
As we seek the Lord and turn from our wicked ways He promises to hear from heaven and forgive our sins. “God declares, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees!”(Ezekiel 36:26, 27) Now is the time for us to earnestly seek the Lord and receive the life and healing that is provided through our Risen Lord Jesus, both now and for all eternity.