Psalm 105: 4

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.

That is some good advice if I have ever heard it and it brings up a good point. This is a message for the ages. This is not the first time God has instructed His people to seek Him. So, the message for 2021 is a message for every day of the Christian life. It isn’t new, just what God wants to focus our attention on for this year. Let’s look at other ways to draw near to the Father as we answer the question, “How do we seek Him?”

Prayer, or better still, communication with Him is another key. What does that mean? We have lots of tools at our disposal but just chatting with Him is number one with me. Often, when we discuss prayer a more formal image comes to mind. Also, we usually think of prayer as a form of solicitation or request. Those are important communiques but in search of intimacy we need normal, not formal, conversation with Him. Yahweh is interested in everything you are interested in. So just talk with Him about those things. You will be surprised by some of His comments.

Here are some other ways to connect you may not have thought of. We can also journal, paint, sing, etc. These can all be ways to interact with God. What if you yielded your spirit to the Holy Spirit as your paintbrush hovered over the canvas? What if you just let what the Spirit is feeding your spirit flow out of the tip of the brush? Can you imagine that?

What about journaling? Is that something you like to do? Here is a journaling method you may not have yet discovered. It is called two-way journaling and you can find out more about it at Communion with God Ministries’ website. You can also go my website to see some of my journaling of scripture. Just click on “Journaling with Ivey.” It is a good jumping off place for your own journaling.

What other ways can you think of to draw you deeper in your relationship with God. What are other ways to seek Him?

The Cure for Anxiety

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

Many of us are familiar with Matthew 6: 33, but let us look back a little today. The New American Standard Bible has titles for many sections of scripture. This section is titled “The Cure for Anxiety.” I have verses highlighted in here as do many of you but today I wanted to attempt to look at it with new eyes. So I began reading right after the caption, which begins in verse 25. Of course, Jesus is speaking here so in my mind I translated that as, “Jesus is going to teach me how to be free of anxiety.” Alright, I will sign up for the class.

Jesus began to speak and for seven verses he attempts to reveal the Father’s mind and heart about our needs by showing us examples from nature. Jesus gives us picturesque examples so that in our minds eye we can visually follow what he is teaching in regards to anxiety. Then you hit verse 32. Allow me to quote it for you, “For all these things the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” I don’t know how many times I have read that verse but it stopped me in my tracks today. Without saying it aloud, Jesus declared that I was acting like the Gentiles. “Hey wait, I am not a Gentile. I am a child of the King. Why am I acting like them?” All of a sudden it felt like my worry and anxiety about the material things in my life was an insult to the goodness of God. What Jesus was actually saying is that we do not need to worry about the things the Gentiles worry about because we have a Father who loves us and who has taken on the role of provider.

When you look at a teaching, a speech or a book, you find that the author wishes to make a point at that conclusion is found at the end. However, it is supported by the evidence and examples which come before. Good writers and speakers give you a topical sentence in the first paragraph which is usually a restatement of their conclusion. Jesus absolutely lays out this entire topic in just such an organized fashion. I immediately began going to the end of the section to find out what his conclusion is but I like his opening. In verse 25 he tells us, “For this reason I say to you do not be anxious for your life.” He then uses the remaining verses to illustrate this reason. As we close in on the end of the passage we discover the reason we need not worry about our material needs is because “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6: 34) Isn’t that good? Jesus goes on to teach the practical side of this message. He tells us to seek God, seek His kingdom and righteousness and all the things of life will be added to us. That is simply putting all of this in to practice. Don’t worry, instead – seek. That is the cure for anxiety, knowing that you have a heavenly Father who loves you and will care for you. Seek Him and let Him worry about all that “stuff.”

How many of us have (and are) seeking the things, worrying about the things we need: clothes, food, drink, tuition, car etc.? I know I think of those things but Jesus is telling us point blank that is how the Gentiles act, and, hence, not how we should behave. We have a heavenly father. We need to learn how to seek His kingdom and allow Him to be “Father.”

Maybe we can all think about that today as we go through our day. How do I seek God’s kingdom? How do I seek His righteousness? Meditate on that as you have that morning cup of coffee or as you drive to work. The revelations could change your life.

Lastly, let me share with you Jesus’ final thought on the matter, his wrap up conclusion, if you will. “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You know when you see the word “therefore” that someone is making a conclusion. In other words, because of everything he said in verses 25 through 33, you should not be anxious. Stay in this moment with Jesus rather than casting your concerns forward. Stay ever present and connected with him and with the Father and you will have no need to ever be anxious. That’s good news!

Desperate Thirst

Psalm 42: 1

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.

Have you heard the story about the young man who wanted to learn the secret to success? He sought the great guru and inquired of him. When the wizened old man led the seeker into the river and held him under water until the young man was desperate for air the secret was revealed. “When you want success,” the old man told him, “as much as you wanted air, then you will find it.”

So it is with God. When we seek Him with that same kind of desperation and desire, then we shall find Him. Our souls should pant for God. We should be so desperately thirsty that nothing can stand in the way of our finding all that we want.

1 Chronicles 28: 9 reads, “If you seek him, he will be found by you (NIV). God wants to be found by you. I like to say He hides in plain sight. You just have to open your eyes and look. We must direct our eyes to see. He is there waving a flag at you hoping that you will look to Him.  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55: 6). He is waiting.

Come In the Water

2 Chronicles 34: 27

“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.

There is a huge revelation in this verse for those who can hear it. It is this; let your heart be tender.

I confess that I have experienced great difficulty in this but my difficulty has, in the end, made me a bit of an expert. I have experienced the strain of trying to connect with God through a hard heart and the joy of experiencing Him through a tender heart. I can say with no doubt that one cannot enter into a deep and meaningful relationship with God if one’s heart is tough and calloused. That is why I so often write about allowing God to heal your heart. I know that God longs to have close, personal, daily communion with you but that you cannot hear Him if your heart is not tender.

I cannot help but recall the great frustration I felt when I desperately wanted to hear God speak to me but just couldn’t. I thought He wasn’t speaking. It felt like I was living life in a barren desert. Then, by grace, I learned that if I would be brave enough to allow Him to touch my heart that He would come into my life in a way that would not only satisfy my great hunger but that would also fill me to overflowing with His love, mercy and grace. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that the deep relationship that we crave with our father requires that we have a soft, tender heart through which He can commune. He doesn’t abide in our brains. He abides in our hearts so we must be able to engage our hearts in order to hear Him speak and to enter into the love relationship that He wants to share with us.

Our society does not teach us to be tender-hearted, rather the opposite in fact. Yet, many of you long deeply, hunger even, for the kind of relationship with the Father that you hear other people talk about. Honestly, it is natural for you to yearn for Him in that way. Your spirit, that place where your life force resides, craves the connection with the Holy Spirit. It is life. So, we must go against our training to allow ourselves to feel, to be tender. Frankly, many people do not have the courage for this kind of journey but once we realize the prize the journey becomes so much easier. There is no need for fear really. When you touch your heart you will find God and He is well able to care for you. It is what He wants to do after all.

If there is one encouragement I would give you above all others it is to allow God to touch your heart. Allow Him to heal the fears, the injuries and answer all of the questions. When we allow Him to heal our hearts then the tenderness which is His nature begins to saturate our beings. I am not telling you that you will turn into a crème puff. Actually, it is just the opposite your heart will become tender but you will have more courage than ever before. Frankly, it is fear that causes most people to harden their hearts. Once you have touched God in your heart and have the truth of Him living there you will have the courage of David. You will find that you also have the tenderness of David as well. You are going to like the real you that is revealed as the walls begin coming down and trust me, the people around you will too. The real you is glorious but is hidden in the recesses of your heart. Open up your heart and let the glory shine out. In your tenderness you will find great power and you will find love. Come on, jump in, the water is fine.

I Have The Power

2 Chronicles 15: 2

“Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

You are in charge of your relationship with God. Did you realize that? You can be as close as you want or as distant. It is your call. In fact, did you know that God cannot breakup with you? What power that is. If you decide you do not wish to have a relationship with God then that is your call but He cannot make the same election. He has given all power over your union with Him to you.

In the verse for today we see Asa, King of Judah, being given this same message. The Lord is with you when you choose to be with Him and have Him with you. He is found when you Seek Him and His face will only be hidden from you when your turn away. God has given us power and a free will. He will even let you go to hell if you choose to. In fact, He cannot prevent it if you so choose. He has given us ultimate power in choosing how to live our lives because He wanted children, not robots. He wants to have a meaningful relationship with beings He could actually even call “friend.”

But as Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That is the part which some of us struggle with because if we do not have the relationship with God that we want the responsibility lies with us. Now, that is not what I wanted to hear; still don’t sometimes, but there is something very empowering in that statement because it also means that I can affect the relationship. I can choose whether God will be found by me or not. All I have to do is seek. He has no choice but to be found. I like that. If I choose to be with God, or if you choose to be with Him, then He has no choice but to be with us. You see, God is omnipotent but that does not actually mean He can do all things. He has hemmed Himself in by His own rules. He actually hasn’t the power in some things because He has given that power away. It was His choice. We certainly didn’t make Him do anything He didn’t want to do but once He makes a rule it binds Him as much as it does anyone else. He will not violate His laws. So, if you want to kick Him out of your life, then you are fully able. On the other hand, if you seek Him He cannot help but be found by you.

From my personal experience I can also testify that this is true. I did blame God for our relationship not being all that I wanted and I put Him on notice that I was going to hunt Him down. And hunt Him I did. After years and years of living in the desert I found that there was an oasis right over the near dune and that it was He. He was calling to me, “Come; come to the cool water and drink. I am here. I am awaiting you. He was there all along, right in front of my face but the noise in my head was too loud for me to hear. My heart was anesthetized and unable to hear. But brother when I opened my eyes and ears and went searching for Him He exploded on the scene. He was waiting for me and met me with such vibrancy that my body, soul and spirit have been pulsating ever since. And I know that I will never live in the desert again. I think about all those wasted years roaming around in the desert lost when He was right there all along trying to be seen by me.

Don’t be a fool like I was. Open your ears and eyes right now. Let God know that you intend to find Him and when you open your eyes you will find Him standing right in front of you. The power is yours. Determine what kind of relationship you want with God and make it so.

Heart Talk

Psalm 27: 8

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

The whole Bible; the law and the prophets are contained in this little verse so how shall we speak about it? There is one word which jumped out at me from this passage. It is the word “heart”. David received the Word of the Lord with his heart and responded from his heart. I wonder if this revealed “heart response” is the reason that God called David a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14).

You see, my first instinct would have been to receive God’s instruction with my mind. Then I would probably analyze it for a week or two and then I would get around to actually doing what He said. As it turns out, though, God is not asking us to seek Him with our minds. He wants us to seek Him with our hearts. It just amazes me that David’s heart answered God instead of his mind. I didn’t even realize our hearts had a voice. I wonder what it sounded like when David’s heart answered God. No doubt God heard him.

So, what is my heart saying to God today? What is yours saying? Our culture validates brain activity but does very little to honor works of the heart, much less the voice of the heart. But God isn’t speaking to our minds. He doesn’t live in our brains. He is a heart God and we must learn to open our hearts to His voice. And then we must learn to speak to Him out of our hearts. There is where the real communication takes place and it is always where relationships are forged. I have heard of getting a check-up from the neck up. Perhaps it is time we got a heart physical.

Seek and Find

Psalm 9: 10

And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.

Here is some good news for the middle of the week. God has not and never will forsake those who seek Him.

I am not going to write today about “the name” of God but there is a huge message there. I will just say that learning God’s name and learning about the names He used in the Old Testament to present Himself will most definitely increase one’s assurance that God is for them. It stimulates trust which yields rest.

Honestly, seeking God is the answer to every problem you will ever face. Christian counseling would be really easy if the counselors could just get people to hear that advice and follow through on it. Every answer for every problem is in God so all we have to do is seek Him out and ask the question.  

And here is the promise from God to you today; if you seek Him you will never be forsaken. Those who seek will find. God hides in plain sight hoping that you will come looking for Him. I have likened it before to playing hide and seek with a small child. When my nephew was young I started out hiding too well. I learned that I had to hide in plain sight. It is amazing to think of now but he was overjoyed when he found me. How much greater is our joy when we “find” God? He’s not really hiding, you know? He has positioned Himself where you can find Him. You just have to lift your head and look and sure enough, there He is. I promise, when you seek you will find.

The rewards of seeking God’s face are boundless. I may speak in terms of His solving problems but that is very much the least of the benefit. Unfortunately, words fail me when I try to convey how much better and how much easier all of life is when you abide in the presence of God. It is relief, joy, hope, success, enlightenment, and on. Whatever your heart needs, whatever you are seeking in your life, they are all found in the presence of God. 

What could I offer you that would stimulate you to seek God like you never have before? How can I encourage you to pursue Him with renewed vigor? Would a million dollars do it? How about the promise of peace? The truth is that anything that would motivate you is already in the Father. Pursue Him relentlessly. Pursue Him like you pursued your spouse. And be willing to surrender the control of the reins to Him. If you will do this you will never even think again about being forsaken. You will know how precious you are to God and He will become your closest friend. That is heady stuff but it is true. The God that created the entire universe in all of its wonder and complexity wants nothing more than to be your friend. I told you that you were special.