Comfort and Assurance

Jeremiah 29: 12 -14

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes.

Comfort and assurance, those are the two feelings I want to transmit to you today. It is my hope that these verses reassure you about the God who wanted to be a Father. He longs to be found by you. He wants to hear what you have to say. He is listening.

How many people simply long for someone who will listen to them? We have a Father who desires conversation with us. I think of how we pray and I wonder if it is what He has in mind. Further, I don’t think it is even what we want. Is it fulfilling to recite our laundry list of needs and wants or do we really crave talking with Him and having Him really hear us?

I think of Yahweh Father sitting in the middle of a large room. We, like small children, have been arranged in a big circle around Him. We have our eyes closed. Then He says, “Okay, come find me!” My word! We open our eyes and He is right there in front of us. It is so easy. But then, we become adults and we can’t find Him. Are our eyes wide open and yet we cannot see Him? I can see our adult selves roaming all over the room looking and asking each other, “Do you know where He is? Have you seen Him?” It must be frustrating to be God. He keeps saying, “I am right here; right in front of you.” And I say to my neighbor, “Did you hear something?”

When we were children, in our hearts and chronologically perhaps, we opened our eyes and, with great glee, ran to the Father and jumped all over Him. Let’s do that again. Let’s be five years old and not care, or even think to care, what others think. Let’s go talk with Dad and tell Him all the things which are on our minds and hearts.

Three for One

1 Chronicles 28: 9

If you seek Him, He will let you find Him.

I was looking through some notes yesterday and found this note, “Seeking God builds relationship with Jesus and the Spirit.” There wasn’t much else on the page. Apparently, it was an epiphany I had one day and felt inspired to write it down.

I can testify to the veracity of today’s verse. If you seek Him, you will, without a doubt, find Him. Once upon a time, I had a decent relationship with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. I had a block, though, when it came to the Father. When I was in High School, I believed a bunch of bunk about God growing me through pain and disappointment. Even though I came to understand, intellectually, how foolish an ideology that was, in my heart I still blamed God for the bad things that happened in those years. Knowing Jesus, though, and continually seeking Him brought me to a revelation of the lack of relationship with the Father. Ultimately, that formed the basis of reconciliation with my Father.

Seeking any one of the three persons of the Trinity brings us into greater harmony with the other two. We might rewrite this verse to, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.” That is the New Testament rendition of this verse. Each person of the Trinity longs to bring you into a deeper relationship with the other two. Each one brings specific benefits and relationship characteristics. We, therefore, need a healthy and well-developed relationship with each of them; Father, Son and Spirit. Seek Him and you will find them.

Seek and Find

Luke 19: 10

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I am re-reading probably my favorite Christian book of all time, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen. In chapter 8 the author hits on what I believe is a critical distinction. He writes, “The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’” (Image Books, 1994, P.106) Many of you read my own story recently in a Word of the Day entitled, Lost and Found. About that momentous event in my life I often say, “I chased Him until He found me.” It’s so true. Father wasn’t holding out on me. I needed to lower a couple of walls and I needed to accept Him.

It is so enlightening that we spend so much time and energy talking about judgment when Jesus explicitly said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world,” (John 12: 47). He came to seek and save the lost. He meant us. He isn’t judging us; he is seeking us. We were lost and now we are found. However, that is not the end of the story. We think of this as a salvation message and that is not wrong. It is not the fullness though.

Remember in my story, I was already saved. So, why was God seeking me? He had already found me, right? Not completely. I was saved, spirit filled and going to heaven, none the less, I was separated from Him here on earth. It was not as if I did not know the Father at all. In fact, if you had known me before the fateful trip to Anaheim, you would have said I was a pretty religious person. However, there was much more for the Father and I to share, much more that He wanted with me and for me. It makes me wonder; despite our closeness now, how much more does He still want to give me? Does He still wish to “find” me in new ways or at new levels? Is there more Father?

This is the reality I want us to ponder and question. Though we have come to know the Father, have we really allowed ourselves to be found by Him? Are we allowing Him to speak to us, express Himself to us, love us? Though you may have been saved for fifty years now, I think the need of seeking Him has not lessened. It seems the more of Him we have, the more we can have and even the more He longs to give. The closer we get to Him the more of Him radiates on us. Therefore, my admonition to you is, “Seek and be found.”

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.

Seek and Receive

Ephesians 1: 17

. . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

A friend of mine was suffering from writer’s block. It is a most uncomfortable feeling. I thought, “I cannot afford writer’s block. The Word of the Day has to be delivered tomorrow morning at 5:00.” I have learned that our Father and His Spirit are supporting me every day in producing these “words” from Him and that I must relax and let Him lead me. Still, there are those days which present a bit of a challenge. Yesterday was one of those days. Most days I can pick up my Bible and read anywhere in it and He will show me a message. That was one of the premises of my book, Journey Through the Bible. Every book of the Bible has something to minister to us today. But yesterday, I read from Numbers, Proverbs and did a little jaunt through some of the New Testament books. Nothing. Then at 5:00 PM I opened my Bible and this verse jumped out at me. He did for me in that moment exactly what Paul prayed for us. He gave me a spirit of wisdom and understanding which revealed the Father.

My reliance is on the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean that I can always hear perfectly. Paul knew how we all struggle as we grow and stretch. He also knew what we need, namely the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of the Father. So here is the wisdom that I received. Even when I cannot feel the Father, even on those days when I am not receiving as well as others, He is right here with me and He is present to reveal Himself to me. He desires to show Himself to me so that I may reveal Him to you. He wants us to know Him.

Of course, I was seeking Him and His Word. So, even though I was tired and just a little less alert, He was able to speak to my mind and my heart. I hear in my heart, “seek me so that I may be found by you.” There are plenty of scriptures about seeking Him, but the point is that He wants to be found. Therefore, He encourages us to seek Him. I can’t help but thinking that His favorite game is Hide and Seek. Perhaps, though, someone should tell Him the rules because He is horrible at hiding. In fact, He hides in plain sight. One of my favorite “seeking” scriptures is 1 Chronicles 28: 9, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him.”

Paul started the church at Ephesus and he had a desire that his young church would grow in the things of God. Well, that is what every pastor wants. Therefore, Paul prayed this wonderful prayer, that God might give you this gift. I will tack on my prayer today to Paul’s and I pray that you might “receive” the “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Giving is one thing but receiving is an entirely different one so I pray that you receive. I pray for you today that God will fill you with knowledge of Himself. One thing I advise, seek Him.

Seeker

1 Chronicles 28: 9

If you seek Him, He will let you find Him.

This is the advice King David gave his son, Solomon, as he began to turn over the throne to Solomon. I find it interesting to see what advice a leader gives in those moments. They always give the most essential bits of insight they have gleaned through their years in leadership.

David told his son, seek God and you will find Him. I like to say hide and seek with God is so fun because He always hides in plain sight. If we cannot find Him, it is generally because of one of two things: either we are not seeking or we are avoiding Him. I personally found that when I opened my eyes and heart to seek God, He was there. A friend of mine says of my journey, I chased Him until He got me. That is the truth. He was there all along reaching out to me, but I had to open myself to Him before I found Him. I was seeking a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him and I was sick and tired of not hearing His voice. It turned out He had been speaking and I just could not hear. Thankfully, seeking results in finding.

The problem David encountered at the end of his reign, I believe, was that he no longer sought the God of his youth. His hunger abated and he got comfortable. That is a peril we all face. We need to keep our goals so far out there that we must rely on God. I often think of the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. Do you think the water was two feet deep or over their heads? Of course, they were in over their heads. That is why Peter panicked. He called out to Jesus and was sustained. That is where I like us to be, in over our heads. Then we must rely on Jesus and Father. It keeps us humble but it also keeps us flowing in their power through the Holy Spirit.

Some people think of these seeking verses only in the context of salvation, but I think of them much more for the subsequent faith walk. It is not that difficult to seek Him and find Him for salvation but sometimes afterwards complacency attacks us and it becomes necessary to renew our seeking. I think this is what David intended to communicate to Solomon. Seek the Lord your God every day of your life and you will know how to proceed in this day. This is great advice for the ruler of a nation but every bit as important to you and me.

I encourage you to take some time today to seek God. Seek a new relationship with Him, seek time with Him or even a new aspect of your relationship. If you know Him mostly as your God, seek His Fathership. If you are comfortable with the Father, seek His Lordship. Maybe you want to know Him as friend. You can, you know. Seek His face, His voice, His hand. Seek and He will let you find Him. Seek and be found.

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.”