1 Chronicles 15:13

“It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.”

Last week I posited that Jesus intends us to partner with him in our life tasks. However, isn’t that a bit of a puzzling concept? How do we actually partner with Christ? I believe the answer is revealed in today’s passage.

The key seems to be, inquire of the Lord as to how to do whatever it is that you have in mind to do. It’s one thing to agree that we should partner with the Lord. It is quite another to figure out exactly what that looks like. First, we should embrace that this can be an everyday encounter and that is certainly a good aspiration. I also think we should begin our projects with a good brainstorming session with our God. Before we launch out into the deep waters, we can get a game plan together with God. What is natural for us is to put together a plan and ask God to anoint it. That is not really partnering because God has no say so in the operations. That model treats Him like a magical fairy. Instead, what I am proposing is that God’s paradigm for partnership involves Him in the decision making. Essentially, it is inquiring of Him and letting Him speak.

Of course, what good is it to inquire of the Jesus or the Father if we cannot hear their reply. An inquiry should yield a response. Many Christians do not believe we can actually hear the voice of God. That grieves me. Many of you know my story, how I chased God to San Diego because I was determined to hear His voice. You know what? It worked. I heard Him alright and it was an amazing week. It was begun by two factors. First, I believed we should hear the voice of our Father, and second, I was not hearing His voice. Had I not been certain that God wanted to speak with His kids in general and me specifically, I would not have chased Him and would not have gained the victory.

That leads me to my second point about partnering with God. “Now seek the Lord your God with all your heart and soul,” (1 Chronicles 22: 19). It seems to me that partnership must include seeking the Lord. Isn’t that the essence of partnering with someone, especially when your partner is the Almighty? So, the model looks like this to me. Seek the Lord. Inquire of Him. Hear His input. Partnering requires all three steps. Otherwise, it’s just us going along our merry way and hoping He will bless it. There is a much better way to do life. Partner with Christ!

Don’t hear your Father speaking with you? Ask me how.

Lost and Found

1 Chronicles 22: 19

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.

I want to tell you a little story today. It is about when I set my heart and soul to finding the Lord and the effect that had. It was July 2005. I was very frustrated at not being able to hear the Lord clearly. I was getting dressed one morning and had Christian programming on the TV in the other room. I heard this minister talking about when he first got saved. In the middle of his story he told about something he heard God speak to him in those early days. He was newly saved, a baby in the things of God and yet God spoke to Him. Worse yet, he heard and recognized God’s voice. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was incensed that a babe in the woods should hear God’s voice so clearly while I struggled. In no uncertain terms, I told God what I thought, and I did not mince words.

There was a conference coming up in Anaheim. I knew God would be there, so I bought a plane ticket, made a hotel reservation and put God on notice that I was “going to get Him.”

Now when we talk about setting one’s heart and soul, or seeking God with all our strength brother, that described me. I was determined to go to Anaheim and get God. I pursued Him. The result? I sought Him and He found me. I went to get Him, but He got me. He must have been laughing in heaven at my threat to “get Him.”

The end of the story is that I came away from that conference having seen the Holy Spirit with my own eyes, had a prophetic dream, had prophetic words pouring from my mouth and more, more than I can describe. My life changed dramatically because of that event. You can imagine that it would. It turned out that God wasn’t holding out on me. Instead, I had a block in my heart that I couldn’t see but which he resolved through the dream. God touched me and it all began because I sought Him with all my heart and soul.

He is a good God, loving and kind. He wants an intimate relationship with you but as I learned during that week in 2005, we are in the driver’s seat. That is why the scriptures tell us to seek Him. He leaves the power in our hands.

Seek Him with all your heart and soul! What does that look like? Well, there must be persistence in it, right? There has to be determined purpose. I didn’t pray just once. I sought Him with absolute determination. And let me say, the rewards have been well worth the search. More than anything, I now know that God is attentive. He is listening to me but also listening for me. He is awaiting the sound of my footsteps approaching His throne room. I know that if I seek Him, I will always find Him. My desire, now, is for each of you to have this same kind of experience or if you have had one, to have another. Seek Him with all your heart, soul and mind and enjoy the rewards.

Cup of Coffee

1 Chronicles 22: 19

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.

Well, the 30 days of seeking God are completed. How did you do? Did you have some major revelations? Or did God speak to an particular issue in your life? I certainly hope so. Write to me and let me know what you gained from the experience and how God blessed you. I would like to share with you one of the biggest epiphanies I gained through this 30 day adventure.

As I spent time seeking God one of the first hurdles to navigate was how to seek Him. I use two-way journaling as a way to capture what the Father says to me and one day He told me, “Journal, sing, read your Bible or start a new devotional.” Those were all things which resonated with me. Frankly, it is pretty much the list of what I do now. Then there was a change in the tone of what He was telling me. I think He gave me the list above to validate the things which I currently do. Those were the bridge to where He wanted to take me. Next, He told me not to simply wait for something to float into my head but rather to pursue Him relentlessly. What did that mean? Wasn’t I in the midst of seeking Him. Again, it was more validation but colored with encouragement to press in even more. All of this was preparing me, and my heart, for what He really wanted to say to me. “Ivey,” He said, “Come sit down in My office and let’s visit. Let’s share a cup of coffee and chat each morning. Just spend time with me. Don’t be concerned with formal devotions. Let’s sit and discuss each item on your list and I will advise you.”

What do you think of that? Someone asked me recently if I speak aloud to the Father. Yep! I talk aloud to Him as if He is bodily sitting in my office because that is my reality. He is with me as He is with you all of the time. So, Father simplified and demystified seeking Him. He told me to “inquire of Him in all things.” Well, that is simply having a conversation with Him and getting His input. One of the titles that came to my mind as He was telling me all of this was “Pray Less.” In that time together He taught me to forget religious methods and just chat with Him. That is pretty amazing really. The creator of the universe, the God and Father of us all, the big guy just wants to sit and have a cup of coffee together. You know, I can do that. I am not the most religious person on the planet and truthfully, I hope I never become that but it turns out that Dad isn’t asking of us that we pray beautiful prayers that are so poetic that they should be published. He’s got folks for that. What He desires of you and me is less prayer and more chat, more visiting over a cup of coffee. I am really just amazed by the humility of the situation and His desire for simple, unadorned time with each of us.

As a general aside, He may tell you to meet Him over the kitchen table or the front porch swing. Maybe He drinks tea with you instead of coffee. There is nothing magical about the office setting. He knew that setting would resonate with me. That’s all.

The God Creator of the universe has boiled down the whole religion paradigm to a very simple statement. “Come, let’s share a cup of coffee and visit.”

Hearty Seeking

1 Chronicles 22: 19

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.

If you want to know the secret to living victoriously in Christ I believe this is it. I remember how dramatically my life changed when I resolutely and determinedly sought God. Now I have entered a new phase of seeking where all of me is more fully engaged in seeking Him.

It is interesting to me that the scripture says to set our hearts and souls to seeking God. I spent many, many years seeking Him with my mind. That was not a completely empty pursuit but it sure was not fulfilling. I loved God and sought His wisdom but when I began to pursue Him with all of me, life changed.

For me the big difference was getting out of my intellect and into my heart. I found this difficult because I interfaced with the world through intellect and reasoning. I didn’t “feel” my way through life. I listened to people talk about connecting with God in their hearts and honestly, I couldn’t even feel my heart when I meditated. It was pretty humbling. And I don’t claim to have laid hold of the prize yet but I do know that an intellectual relationship with God is not what He sent His son to the cross for. Intellectual relationships are what we have with professors and with books. It is not the basis for a relationship with our resurrected Lord, he who gave his life for us. We are intended to be as close to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as we are to our spouses and children. It really is a matter of the heart. How satisfied would your spouse be if your relationship was solely intellectual? Boring!

Here is a bit of good news though. Father says that if we will seek Him, He will be found by us (2 Chronicles 15: 2). But what does this really mean, to seek Him with our heart and soul? It seems that we must not only abandon the pursuit of our minds but that we must also turn our perspective in so that we connect first with our own hearts and souls. Then as an exercise of our inner person we engage the Father. When we were born again the Father, Son and Holy Spirit came to live inside of us. They have taken up residence in us. Therefore, if we wish to find the Father we need not search the heavens or the air about us. We need only turn our attention inward. Unfortunately, many of us have divorced ourselves from an internal life. We were either deceived about the primacy of the intellect or we closed off our hearts because we had not the strength to endure. Often it might have been a bit of both. But we are not cowards. There is nothing in our hearts that Jesus can’t handle. In fact, he has already healed all of our wounds. He is the salve that coats and heals. Therefore, we needn’t be afraid any longer. Our Lord is bigger than our fear, bigger than any past injuries. No matter how badly we may have been injured nor how long we have made it a practice to cordon off our hearts, he is greater than those obstacles. He can restore to us a tender heart which is our divine right and our divine construction. We were made to be tender and when we really understand who we are in Christ we will also appreciate that there is no weakness in tenderness. A tender and compassionate heart is what gave Jesus the strength to go to the cross.

If we want to live in Christian victory; if we want to have all that Jesus came to give us; then we must live our lives integrated with him. We must set our hearts and souls to seeking him and he will be found by us. We must have an impressionable and open heart in order to succeed. Jesus is our perfect way and He has provided for us strength and security. Fear not! Seek the Lord with all that you are and you will find great joy and victory in him.