Friday, April 8, 2022

What do we really want?

Why is it that when we find God we tend to stop searching for Him?

Do we merely pursue Him for what we need or for what we want? Is our pursuit chiefly seeking Him or something from Him?

What do you expect to receive for following the Scripture, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Think of the greatest reward that you could possibly receive from God for pursuing Him diligently, what comes to your mind? Assurance, peace, joy, healing, hope, freedom, salvation, wisdom, wealth, or eternal life? Are not all of these things promised to believers? Do not all who genuinely believe in Him receive some measure of these graces from His beneficent hand?

The greatest reward that God can give to man is Himself. He said to Abraham, “I am your shield, and exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). The LORD did not tell this to Abraham to introduce a new concept or to announce that the LORD was now giving Himself as a reward to him. Rather, He was describing to Abraham what He had already been to him and opening him up to a deeper revelation of their relationship.

Abraham saw the vanity of idolatry and by faith believed that God is, and he diligently sought Him. He forsook his home, position, family, and the familiar to follow the Divine Voice. The Voice called, and Abraham responded. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). He became a tent dweller and a sojourner.

When he left all to follow the Word, it wasn’t about what to seek as much as Who to seek. Without hardly any explanations, certainties, or details, Abraham left all to follow God. All Abraham received in his call was a Divine promise, “I will show you . . . I will make you . . . I will bless you” (Genesis 12:1-3).

What does it mean to diligently seek the LORD? Abraham waited years to be shown, to be made and to be blessed. His diligence didn’t fizzle out through doubts, confusion, or other possibilities, but through faith and patience, he inherited the promises. His pilgrimage, patience and persistence were his diligence. His diligence did not consist in mere moments of spiritual activity, but the entirety of His life declared it.

Abraham found the LORD but he didn’t stop searching for Him. When his cattle, posterity, and servants were increased and promises were fulfilled; when he was “shown”, “made”, and “blessed”, He continued to seek the LORD of heaven and earth, and again and again the LORD was found by him. “He was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).

The greatest reward that Abraham received in his pursuit of God was His friendship. The Psalmist said that “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). Secrets are only shared with intimate companions, not with acquaintances or visitors. I know things about my wife that only I or few others will ever know. I am in covenant with her, live with her, suffered with her, and have shared intimate moments that could only be experienced because of the nature of our relationship and a diligence to pursue her.

After years of waiting, trials, and mistakes, Abraham received Isaac, the promised seed and few years later God told Abraham to sacrifice him. Though Abraham was God’s friend, God didn’t explain to him any reasons why but simply said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). Though this contradicted everything that Abraham knew to be true about God, he knew that God had spoken to him. Though Abraham was God’s friend, he still trembled at His word. Abraham feared the LORD. He didn’t wait to figure anything out, he didn’t try to wrestle any details out of God, but he “Rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3). He didn’t know the exact mountain, but only knew it was in the mountains and he immediately obeyed and took Isaac with him. It wasn’t until after three days that the LORD opened his eyes to the place of sacrifice, “Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off” (Genesis 22:4). It is one thing to fear the LORD when He manifests Himself to you and speaks to you personally on the same day but to follow through in instant and complete obedience after is quite another. Abraham had three days to hash out God’s expectations in his mind with his own conscience, possibly examining if he heard God clearly, understood perfectly, etc., but His diligence led him to pursue God in full obedience even when perhaps the initial fear was withered away by the third day. He knew that God had spoken and He knew the God who spoke. When he saw the place to sacrifice he went with Isaac, and “Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). Abraham knew what God had required and he was willing to obey God even when what God asked didn’t make any sense, defied all logic and contradicted everything he knew about Him. Yet, in his diligent pursuit of God, he came to a place of resolute faith: that either God would raise Isaac from the dead, or that he was being tested or that somehow God would reveal something to him consistent with His character if he only obeyed, for Abraham told his servant, “We will come back to you”. He believed God told him to sacrifice his son but he also believed that his son would return with him.

They arrived at the place, laid the wood in order, Abraham bound Isaac upon the wooden altar and reached for his knife to slay his son “But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:11-13). Do you want to have an intimate relationship with God? Then do not be offended when He tests you. Trust Him with all of your heart. Instantly obey Him and obey Him completely regardless of what He asks. Friendship with the Lord is reserved with those who fear Him. Abraham knew the LORD as Possessor of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:22), but now he knows the LORD by another name, for, “Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided” (Genesis 22:14). Abraham knew the LORD as His provider and the LORD revealed this to Abraham because Abraham was His friend, who feared, venerated, exalted God over everything in his life, as it is fitting and reasonable being that God is the very One who gave him life and breath to be or to do anything at all.

Do we really trust the LORD with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding or is this just a nice proverb we like to quote and mention from time to time? Do we trust God when He says, “Love your enemies” “Do good to those who hate you” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”?

Abraham’s instant and complete obedience was an outward expression of his diligent inward pursuit of God and God rewarded him greatly with a deeper revelation of Himself, “The LORD my provider”. God’s revelation to Abraham was not that He would provide him animals for sacrifices, but that God would ultimately provide the sacrifice of Himself, and provide final and true atonement for Abraham and for all of his seed, and we know that Abraham’s true children are those who do the works of Abraham (John 8:39), as it is written, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed” (Galatians 3:8). Interestingly, scholars believe that Mount Moriah (where God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac) and that Golgotha, (where Jesus was crucified), are the same place. God was revealing to His beloved friend Abraham, his Divine plan, the secret kept hidden since the foundation of the world, of Christ Crucified, the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2), even the LORD Himself (Leviticus 16:9), the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). Even as Isaac was spared death through the God’s provision, so Jesus was spared through the resurrection (Romans 1:4).

If Abraham would have stopped seeking the LORD when he found Him, then he would have never known the LORD as Friend, Provider, and Redeemer.

Out of a diligent pursuit of His Creator from a heart of faith, a friendship emerged between Abraham and the Creator of all things and this is possible and available to all who diligently seek Him in faith. For Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatsoever things that I command you” (John 15:14).

You might be tempted to doubt what you know about God through what He allows you to go through or even by what He tells you to do but while the opportunity is available to all, not all will be found as friends of God, for not all are truly willing seek Him or to know Him through instant and complete obedience as did Abraham.

Consider Moses: he encountered the I AM and the fire that burned in the bush continued to burn inside of him and thereafter, there was absolutely nothing that God would ask Moses to do, that Moses would not do.

The LORD revealed Himself to Moses and Moses knew the LORD. The LORD walked with Moses and Moses faithfully walked with the LORD, throughout Egypt and through the wilderness, so that Moses had this testimony, “The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11), and when it seemed that all had been found, that no more diligent search could possibly be made in pursuing God, Moses cried out moments later, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You” (Exodus 33:13). You see, the heart cry of those who truly know God is that they may know Him more, for this is their life, their glory, and their exceeding great reward (John 17:3, Jeremiah 9:24, Genesis 15:1). They understand that they were not created for things but that things were created for them and that their thirst and hunger can only be satisfied by the One who is thirsting to be their drink and hungering to be their food. For all things were created by God and for His pleasure they exist and were created.

True knowledge of God produces an appetite to know Him more. The apostle Paul testified, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11). Paul encountered the living and resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus! He saw unapproachable Light, Heard the Voice of Jesus then, and throughout his life. He learned the truth through revelation of Jesus Christ Himself. He knew the LORD! But he found this paradox of knowing Christ through a diligent pursuit of Him and that, although he knew Him, he only desired to know Him more, even if it meant, stripes, imprisonment, or death.

The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Why did Joshua linger inside? I have usually thought that it was because Joshua was experiencing the secret of the LORD, His presence and power, but what if he lingered because he was diligently seeking the LORD? Instead of standing without along with everyone else back at the camp indulging in lawful pleasures or even in sin, he lingered inside the tent, where He knew the LORD met with Moses. He could have passively reclined with the others outside the tabernacle who were perhaps more intrigued with feasting, drinking, entertainment, dancing and whatever else they were doing; but he lingered inside, near to where he believed God was. His diligence was evidently effectual with God. He drew near to God and God drew near to Him. He experienced a real transformation and impartation from God, for God said of him, "Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him” (Numbers 27:18).

We can read Scriptures, books, watch movies, read posts, and be involved in much religious activity, but we have no earnest inward affection for God, to seek Him diligently, to know Him more to be known by Him, then our activity is vain. Do mistake seeking information for seeking Him. Those who truly and diligently seek the LORD will follow in the steps of Abraham, Moses, Joshua,  and Paul. They will seek Him.

People search for wisdom but they do not seek Jesus, yet Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). They search the Scriptures looking for righteousness but they do not behold and embrace Jesus who is the righteousness of God (Jeremiah 23:6, 1 Corinthians 1:30). They hunger for miracles and for the power of God to manifest in their lives, homes, and meetings, but they are not hungry for Jesus Who is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). To seek God diligently is to diligently pursue Jesus Who is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3).

True knowledge of God, rewarded to those who diligently pursue Him, is often a fresh infilling of the holy Spirit, for such knowledge is breathed into and written upon the fleshy tables of those pursuing Him. Such find themselves willing to endure all things, hope all things, forgive all things, obey all things, for Christ’s sake, regardless of the cost.

Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The unveiling of this mystery to the heart of man is a living fountain within, springing up into eternal life and everlasting friendship.

One night God said to King Solomon and gave him the greatest opportunity that could be given to any man, “Ask, what shall I give to you” (2 Chronicles 1:7). Solomon answered, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of your enemies, neither yet have asked for long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge my people, over whom I have made you king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted to you; and I will give you riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before you, neither shall there any after you have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:10-12). The LORD was pleased with his selfless answer and his heart was in a good place, but not a perfect place, as was the heart of King David who said to the LORD, “My soul follows hard after You” (Psalm 63:8) for David also said, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

At the core of our being what motivates us to seek the LORD, a reward or finding Him?

You may ask, “Why would we search for what we already have? Why would we diligently seek the LORD if we already have Him?” Let me ask you this, after you married your wife did you stop pursuing her? Was your marriage an expression of wanting her or what you wanted from her? Why do you go to church? Fellowship somewhere? Read the Bible? Pray? Serve? Or even obey? What are you seeking? What reward could God give to you that would please you the most? If God appeared to you and said that He would give you one thing but you only needed to ask Him for it, what would it be?

May the LORD stir our hearts to love Him more and to follow hard after Him!

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“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160