Seek and You Will Find

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When God says things multiple times, He’s probably trying to make a point. You see this many times, with many different topics, but they all have one thing in common; they lead to a deeper knowledge of Him. Today I wanted to talk about seeking God.

It all started while I was praying through the Psalms the morning. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NASB). I started to wonder what it meant for God not to forsake us if we seek Him. The Hebrew word (‘azab) used here, translated forsake or abandon, is what really caught my interest. It’s common usage and connotation is to simply abandon a person or object or anything else, but rather to abandon something held dear. This verse says to me that the people that seek God won’t be left by Him, but that He actually hold them dear to Him. When we are seeking God, we are drawing nearer to Him and making Him happier.

The next passage that came to me is found in Matthew. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NASB). I think this is especially important when times are hard to see God. It’s always easy to see Him when times are good, but when times are bad it gets a bit harder. But God says that He tests the righteous and the wicked (Psalm 11:5), so my must persevere and seek Him through the hard times. He is there for us to lean onto, to take refuge in. He isn’t going to let us down. We just have to look through all the smoke and the fog and find His glorious face shining right back at us. I’m not saying this is easy. When times are tough, even tragic, most people turn away from God and blame Him for doing this to them. But something God says, over and over as well, is that He is there for us. All we have to do is seek Him out.

The final passage I came to was, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NASB). The last part I think is what we all seem to miss, “with all your heart”. It doesn’t mean that we can spend 10-15 minutes a day doing a quick devotion or reading a short passage of Scripture, or saying a short little prayer before your day starts. Yes, God can be seen there, but we can never truly find Him like He is calling for us to do. We must devote our time and energy into this. This is the foundation to living with worship as a lifestyle. But I think we get in this trap because of the culture we now live in. Information is at our fingertips (literally if you have a touchscreen smartphone or tablet). We can find anything we want with a couple clicks of a mouse, and a few words on a screen. God doesn’t work that way. There is no way to instantly download God. We have to spend time searching for Him.

If anything came out to me today it was that we, as a culture, have to be more intentional about seeking God. It’s not something that we can do quickly or randomly throughout our days. We have to set time to focus on Him and dig into Scripture and prayer. We must seek Him, because that is the only way we will ever find Him.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 9-13

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Pray the Psalms

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Today’s post is quite simple. I forgot my Bibles at home, so I could not write a post from there. I, instead, turned to a magazine I have for Worship Leaders, and inside was an excerpt from The Case For The Psalms: Why They Are Essential by N.T. Wright. In this passage, Mr Wright poses an argument for praying through the Psalms.

The basis for his stance is that we cannot fully understand Jesus if we do not have a complete understanding of the Psalms. Jesus, and his disciples, were Jews that had a deep knowledge of Scripture which is what led to the common quoting of Psalms. When we learn these passages, we get a better look at God and the whole story of Jesus Christ.

So I will now be posting Psalms for us to pray through each day. You can choose to join me if you’d like, but as the Heart Man, I am seeking to know God even deeper. According to Wright, this is possible by praying the Psalms.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 1

“You Get A Fresh Start”!

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Rejoice my friends! Christ has come and died for our sins. We are made new and clean through the shedding of his blood! Through the process of sanctification, we become holy and cast off our old sins! Shout out this psalm with me:

“Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be —
you get a fresh start,
your slat’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky —
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans

The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;
I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.’

Suddenly the  pressure was gone —
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we’ll be on high ground, untouched.

God’s my island hideaway,
keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.

Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:

‘Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track’

God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.

Celebrate God.
Sing together — everyone!
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!”
–Psalm 32, MSG

For those of you how like the FaceBook page, I quoted v. 5 this morning. I think this psalm is a good celebration for today! So let’s rejoice because we have been made clean!

And here’s something you can “raise the roof” to

Just Give Him Some Praise Today!

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So I sat down to write the post for today and questioned what I should write about. I really didn’t have anything on my mind. So I did a Bible Study that I have been leading my praise team through, hoping that might trigger something. It didn’t. So I thought about it and went to Psalm 119. I knew that this was a long psalm (the longest in the Bible), so I figured I might be able to pull something out of there. But God drew me somewhere else because right on the other side I noticed another psalm. This psalm is quite the opposite of Psalm 119, in that it is a very short psalm. It reads:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For he loves us with unfailing love;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

Praise the Lord!”
–Psalm 117, NLT

Two verses, and it says everything that I could ever say. It’s a good reminder that when you don’t know what else to do, give God praise and worship (not the music, the actions). So I’ll list a few things that I am praising God for today.

  • That He loves me enough to come to this place to save me
  • For the beautiful family He has blessed me with
  • The job that He has given me, so that I may be able to care for my family
  • The car that He has given me so I can get to my job
  • That I live in a place where I can praise him openly without fear or persecution
  • For my Bible (all 9 of them), and the fact that I have the ability to read it
  • My loving friends and extended family that love and support me

The list goes on and on. I know that this sounds a little like an exercise in listing on thing you are thankful for as we lead up to Thanksgiving, but I encourage you to give this a try. Give God thanks and praise for the things He has blessed you with, even if you don’t understand why or how it’s a blessing.

 

Also, I just had to post a song!

Psalm 139

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I read this psalm last night. It reminded me both of exactly why I love the NASB and how well God knows me. Please read the psalm. It is a great expression of worship towards our Heavenly Father!

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depth of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.”
-Psalm 139, NASB

Try giving this video a try as well. It is based on the psalm! It will take you to another site. Unfortunately I can’t embed the video here.

http://skitguys.com/videos/item/psalm-139

I’m So Thirsty

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“As the deer pants for streams of water,
So my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”
-Psalm 42:1-2, NIV

This scripture has been on my mind the last couple of days. The whole psalm expresses a desire to be closer to God. The psalmist clearly has fallen away from God and desires to be closer. He finishes the psalm by writing “Why are you downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11 NIV). He realizes that in order to feel better, or closer, all he has to do is put his faith in God! Knowing this psalm, I don’t think it was by accident Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman at a well or offered living water.

We all have times that are rough. We all have environments that aren’t approving of our Christian lifestyle. The trouble comes when these things take us to the wrong place. When tragedy strikes, do you run away from or towards God? Unfortunately, I’m afraid most people run away. They like to use the phrase “How can a good god allow this to happen?”

Environment is a tricky one too. I personally work in a place that isn’t good for Christian growth. Everyone around me seems to be against me, or think what I do is stupid. The place I live has essentially stopped going to church. Largely people seem to think sporting events and sleeping in are more important. And of course, the world seems to be turning away from God. It’s like living in a desert. That’s why I love what the psalmist said, “my soul thirsts for You”.

So we must constantly quench our thirst of God. Without Him, our soul yearns for Him, cries out for Him, or dehydrates from Him. We need Him in our lives, in an ever growing amount. The more of Him we have, the more we need. So spend time in prayer, reading Scripture, singing His praises, talking about Him, whatever your lead to do. We need God back in our lives and in this world. Let’s bring Him here!

It Is Too Loud!

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If you’re like me, you live in a very loud world. Cars honking, sirens blaring, phones ringing, people shouting, the list goes on and on. It’s so loud that we can’t hear when God speaks to us. I read an article a few months ago that was talking about “noise” in our worship services. We tend to fill every amount of space with sound, but we leave no room for silence.

I was reminded of a story of Elijah (1 Kings 19:9b-18). In this story all the prophets are being hunted down and killed and Elijah is the only one that remains. God told him to go stand on a mountain because He was about to pass by. The all hell seemed to let loose. There was a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. In all of these moments, Elijah did not find God within it. But after the fire, there was a whisper. Elijah found God in the whisper.

So if God is in the whisper, what does that say about the volume of the world around us. It is most certainly too loud, trying to drown out the voice of God. I am still doing the experiment I posted about earlier this week. After reading my Bible and singing a few songs, I just sat and listened. It really helped me to connect with God today, and get aligned with His Will for me today. I was reminded of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God;” (46:10 NIV). The ability to sit still and listen goes along way when it comes to our relationship with the Father.

So let’s add a little bit of silence to our lives. God speaks in the silence. Yes, He has spoken through loud events (Exodus 19:16-24), but He seems to speak to me more intimately in the silence. Let’s actively try to hear God’s voice by getting away from our loud world, and just listen.

 

P.S. Dang this post was short!

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” (Mark 15)

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Well friends, we’re coming to the end of our study of Mark. Today’s chapter covers the entire process of getting Jesus crucified. It’s a story I’m sure we are all familiar with. Something I noticed though was that the other gospels recorded a few phrases of Jesus’ from the Cross, but Mark only records one statement. This statement is “Eloi, Eli, lama sabachtahni?” translated to “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (15:34 NASB). Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night , but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.
To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They make mouths at me, they wag the head says,
‘Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delight in him.”
-Psalm 22:1-8, NASB

Not only was this relevant because of everything going on around Jesus, but I’m sure this psalm captures the way he was feeling. The theological statement here that I like is that this moment is when Jesus takes on the sin of the world. He shouts out this Psalm because this is the first moment in his 33 years of life that he has been separated from God because of sin.

But don’t we all get this feeling. Jesus was hanging on the Cross and felt as thought God had left him. I’m sure David felt this way when he lived in caves because he was being hunted by Saul. We feel it today when life hurts the most.

It is true what Moses says to the Israelites before the enter the promised land “… the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NASB). And also what God says in Hebrews, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NASB). There are lots of people who would say having the feelings Jesus, or the psalmist, expresses are a form of blaspheme. But I urge you to realize that if the feelings are expressed in the Bible, especially by Jesus Christ, then they are perfectly valid feelings to have.

I recently read a great book called Deeper Places. The author draws upon the feelings expressed in the Book of Psalms to teach about experiencing God. The biggest take away I had from the book was that if you have a feeling, talk through it with God. The problem arises when we feel that God has left us, we leave Him. But God will never leave us. Our sinful nature leads us to feel that God is gone, but sin naturally causes a barrier between us and Him. Work through it. Read your Bible. Spend time in prayer. Worship Him. Lead some worship if you can. Some of my biggest breakthroughs with God come when I’m leading others in worship, but I don’t feel like doing it.

I encourage you, no matter your feeling towards Him, seek God. Continue to seek him out and you will find him. God will come after you when you decide to seek him out. If you feel lost, read the psalms, especially Psalm 139. But God has not forsaken us, He is simply waiting for us to turn back to Him.

Feeling Lost?

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First let me apologize for not having a post yesterday. My family and I went to the State Fair and had a blast. We were busy enough that I never found time for a post. Secondly, my post today is not going to be from Mark. I will pick back up the study on Monday, since tomorrow is Sunday and I will be posting about a worship song!

Anyway, today we are going to look at Psalm 143. I will be putting up the TANAKH version. This is the Jewish scripture version, not necessarily the way it would be translated for a Bible, but it is still a great translation of the Old Testament.

“O Lord, her my prayer;
give ear to my plea, as You are faithful;
answer me, as You are beneficent.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
for before You no creature is in the right.
My foe hounded me;
he crushed me to the ground;
he made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
My spirit failed within me;
my mind was numbed with horror.
Then I thought of the days of old;
I rehearsed all Your deeds,
recounted the work of Your hands.
I stretched out my hands to You,
longing for You like thirst earth.

Answer me quickly, O Lord;
my spirit can endure no more.
Do not hide Your face from me,
or I shall become like those who descend
into the Pit.
Let me learn of Your faithfulness by daybreak,
for in You I trust;
let me know the road I must take,
for on You I have set my hope.
Save me from my foes, O Lord;
to You I look for cover.
Teach me to do Your will,
for You are my God.
Let Your gracious spirit lead me
on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O Lord,
preserve me;
as You are beneficent, free me from distress.
As You are faithful, put an end to my foes;
destroy all my mortal enemies,
for I am Your servant.”

This is one of the many psalms that were written by King David. In reading it, I could feel his distress. He clearly felt hopeless in his situation a was praying to God for help.

This psalm spoke to me today because yesterday I received some very discouraging news. It caused me to have a fit of worry, but my wife sat me down and reminded me of what Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26-27 NASB). I was worried, and I even felt hopeless. The feeling even followed me into the morning. However, I prayed to God, and read the Scriptures and found Psalm 143.

This psalm is the perfect prayer for feeling the way I did. To quote commentary I have on it, “David was losing hope, caught in paralyzing fear and deep depression. At times we feel caught in deepening depression, and we are unable to pull ourselves out. At those times we can come to the Lord and, like David, express our true feelings. The we will find help as we remember his words (v. 5), reach out to him in prayer (v. 6), trust Him (v. 8), and seek to do his will (v. 10). David’s prayer was that he be taught to do God’s will, not his own. A prayer for guidance is self-centered if it doesn’t recognize God’s power to redirect our lives. Asking God to restructure our priorities awakens our minds and stirs our will.”

But after my time with God, I realized that my will sometimes is not the same as His. This is when we become discouraged and lose hope. It’s because our will is faulty and God’s is perfect. That’s why the way Jesus ends his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed is so important; “Father if You are willing, remove this cup [of suffering NLT] from Me; yet not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NASB). It isn’t about my plans, or your plans; it’s about God’s plans. His Will is perfect and He knows what is best for us.

So as I have been posting recently, be sure to trust is the Lord. “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:2 NIV).